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Moderated Forums => Faith Issues => Topic started by: Ortho_cat on October 02, 2010, 08:46:06 PM

Title: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 02, 2010, 08:46:06 PM
Hello all, I haven't posted here in a while because I have been going through a very dark time in my faith the last 6 months or so. I basically became an atheist, and accepted that there was no higher purpose to life and that we make our own purpose. Lately though, I have been feeling that I would like to go back to where I was before before I started doubting. I miss the church. I think that if I started going to church again, it would enrich my life, and would provide me with a solid moral foundation. Also, I think that the accountability that the church provides is very important. One thing that concerns me also is my desire to have a family. I think that raising a family in the church would be very beneficial for both my future marriage and for my future children.

I suppose I would like to hear from those of you who have gone through similar situations, and hopefully I can gain some encouragement from you. For those of you who have gone through a spell of hard atheism and have returned to the church, what changed to bring you back? How did you do it? Was it a gradual process? Do you still have relapses? Any testimony or feedback regarding this would be appreciated.

Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: deusveritasest on October 02, 2010, 08:54:44 PM
I don't know how helpful what I have to say would be given that I did not dabble into hard atheism from being in the Church beforehand, but rather was raised non-religiously, somehow assumed hard atheism for the first 13-14 years of my life, and from there gradually progressed toward the Church.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Asteriktos on October 02, 2010, 09:09:32 PM
Fwiw, here's my two cents. I've been struggling with unbelief for about five years now. I did go through a period of about a year when I considered myself an atheist, but for the past several years I've mostly been bouncing between agnosticism and Orthodoxy. I have had the opportunity to explore various ideas and philosophies (Taoism, gnosticism, forms of deism, etc.) during that time, but it always comes back to agnosticism and Orthodoxy. I went to Vespers tonight. Will I make it to Vespers next week? Will I even make it to liturgy tomorrow? I don't know. I can only say that I intend, at this moment, to go.

I think of the story, which is popular in Orthodox circles, about a monk saying that what he does is "fall down and get back up, fall down the get back up". You fall down as an Orthodox Christian, you get up as an Orthodox Christian--but you always remain an Orthodox Christian. So, if I had one thing to say, it'd be... don't be like me, if you can help it. Don't go in and out of the Church while you struggle with this or that. If you can struggle within the Church, that's a much better method, I think, than popping in and out like I do.

I hope things go well for you. :)
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 02, 2010, 09:21:02 PM
Why would you feel it necessary to be an atheist? I can see universalist or agnostic, but hard atheism is shaky at best.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 02, 2010, 09:26:03 PM
I just didn't see any reason to believe in a god, nor did i see any compelling evidence that would lead me to believe there was one.

Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 02, 2010, 10:32:03 PM
I was atheist for several years before converting to Orthodox. Why did I convert? Dont know, just felt right. From being an atheist you know there is no evidence for God. I can say that I am happier in the orthodox church.

I have spells of doubt. I combat is by understanding that we don't know everything and having faith brings me peace.

Also, its important to understand the definitions. "Agnostic" is not mutually exclusive to atheism/theism as has been pointed to in this thread. Agnostic mean you dont know if God exist or you believe God cant be proven. Most people are Agnostic Atheist or Agnostic theist. I am of the latter. There is nothing wrong with understanding there is no evidence for God. Its simply a fact. However with understanding there is no need for evidence its a lot easier to battle this sort of thing within the church.

Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: MyMapleStory on October 02, 2010, 10:51:05 PM
My Crisis of faith was primarily on an intellectual level, I thought that there was not sufficient enough evidence or reason to believe in God. Eventually however I became convinced from more study that God exists, which eventually lead me to Orthodoxy.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 02, 2010, 11:00:02 PM
No evidence? The absurd complexity of the living cell, the very presence of DNA, the origin of the universe just to name a few.

If you aren't intimately familiar with cellular biology, you should. The interdependent, interweaving complexities of the cell all point to a larger designer in the process which is otherwise impossible by random chance.

DNA is instructions for cell construction and function. Some of the individual proteins can be assembled naturally under perfect conditions. However, even with all conditions realized, information cannot be randomly created. Try making the sentence "the red fox jumped over the barrel" by random letter arrangement. You'll never get it. And that sentence is scores shorter than the shortest genome sequence.

Both of the above are admitted by the most ardent atheists to be "problems". But confronted with the issue, they merely wave it off as something between "who knows" to "aliens". Not God? The thing that every human being longs for in some fashion?

You see, there isn't a sign that says "God is this way. Mind the gap". But all the proof you ever wanted was literally under your nose. The universe is proof. 



 
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Iconodule on October 02, 2010, 11:02:49 PM
I was a militant atheist for much of life, and I was never raised with any religion. At the same time, I had an interest in, and respect for, spirituality and especially monastics. When I was studying in China, I felt a painful desire to connect with the world that I observed among the Daoist and Buddhist monks, a world of truth and beauty which I had closed off to myself in my quest for a purely materialistic ideology. I felt this attraction even more deeply when I began to read about Orthodoxy, and especially when I saw the holy icons and heard the sacred music of the Church. Much of what I read was, on an ideological level, repulsive to me, but nonetheless I could not turn away. I went through several periods of moving toward Orthodoxy, then lapsing back to various secular frames of mind. Christ never ceased to call me back. Atheism does not satisfy. No "purpose" we could invent for ourselves will fill the void... without God we are fundamentally alone and we are building houses of straw. The best atheism can offer is a kind of melancholy beauty, a tragic sense of life, perhaps best exemplified by someone like Omar Khayyam or perhaps HP Lovecraft... it feels profound for awhile but it's really a black void. There is the Romantic, revolutionary atheism of Marx which seeks to build a paradise on earth based on a "scientific" understanding of history, but what a hopeless dead end that is too. Not to mention the more common, pop-atheism of the likes of Dawkins, which has no poetry to cover up its sheer tedium and boorishness.

When we have doubts, we need to examine where they come from and what our criteria for truth have been. Oftentimes the underlying modes of reasoning we take or granted are deeply flawed and full of questionable assumptions. Many Christians today seem to carry Enlightenment concepts as a sort of unacknowledged meta-religion, because we're inculcated with these concepts from a very early age by the surrounding culture. The permeation of our Christian life with so much worldly thinking is, I think, the leading cause of doubt and apostasy in the Church.    

Sometimes lapses can be useful- you realize that your foundation was a little faulty, and it needed to be built on sounder ground, and then you are more strongly in Christ then before. The important thing is that you come back to Him.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: MyMapleStory on October 02, 2010, 11:20:17 PM
If I might share one very famous argument. The First mover argument.

Essentially every thing we know that exists needs a cause, because something can not come from nothing.

Immediately we a flung into the problem of object A needing B to cause it and C to cause B and D to cause C, and this can go on for ever resulting in an infinite regress which makes no sense logically.

Therefore we propose a first cause, that is uncreated which sets A into motion without it needing a cause itself.

I propose this first cause to be God, whom would have to be, rational, infinitely powerful and infinitely knowledgeable.

An objection brought up to this is, "what about the universe? It could have existed eternity and did not need God to create it."

Now from what I understand this contradicts the evidence we have of the origin of the universe, that being the Big Bang, in which we observe the ever expanding nature of the universe and conclude the universe came from but a single point at one time. We therefore cannot posit the universe as having existed for eternity but having had a cause, and since something cannot come from nothing we must determine it was something that resulted in the universe. I posit God as the cause of the universe.

I hope this argument helps.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: NicholasMyra on October 03, 2010, 01:01:43 AM
I would also advise that you refrain from asking yourself, every other moment, "Do I believe in God now? Do I feel his presence now? Is this information meaningful to me now?" Because this is essentially allowing oneself to be guided by egocentric sensualism. It is a temptation that I often face.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 03, 2010, 01:12:07 AM
No evidence? The absurd complexity of the living cell, the very presence of DNA, the origin of the universe just to name a few.

If you aren't intimately familiar with cellular biology, you should. The interdependent, interweaving complexities of the cell all point to a larger designer in the process which is otherwise impossible by random chance.

DNA is instructions for cell construction and function. Some of the individual proteins can be assembled naturally under perfect conditions. However, even with all conditions realized, information cannot be randomly created. Try making the sentence "the red fox jumped over the barrel" by random letter arrangement. You'll never get it. And that sentence is scores shorter than the shortest genome sequence.

Both of the above are admitted by the most ardent atheists to be "problems". But confronted with the issue, they merely wave it off as something between "who knows" to "aliens". Not God? The thing that every human being longs for in some fashion?

You see, there isn't a sign that says "God is this way. Mind the gap". But all the proof you ever wanted was literally under your nose. The universe is proof. 



 
"
The complexity of life is evidence of nothing but complexity of life. To claim that complexity points to a supernatural creator is a logical fallacy. So is claiming that the universe existing is evidence for a creator. Also, the fact that you use the term "random chance" shows how well you understand evolution as a whole. No biologist is the world would claim life happens or is complex due to random chance. However, the fact that we dont know how everything got here does not, in any way, mean that "Goddidit"!!!1!!!11!!

AS far as the issues being problems to atheists, thats just not true. there are plenty of atheist apologetics that can answer you questions.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 03, 2010, 02:23:30 AM
The thing that I would find most difficult isn't regaining a belief in some sort of divine force, it is in the bible itself. I've literally gone through dozens of critiques that point to so-called contradictions, scientific innacuracies, and atrocities in the bible. Is there any turning back from this point? How can I regain my faith in a book that I've spent 6 months tearing down during my research? (The writings of Bart Ehrman had quite a bit to do with this as well) Is it possible to lower my standard of what I previously considered the infallible word of God, and simply consider it largely a collection of allegories that contains some larger spiritual truth? Is there room for this view in Orthodoxy? How much leeway is there in believing the literal words of the bible?

BTW, thanks for all the posts so far!  :)
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: NicholasMyra on October 03, 2010, 02:37:53 AM
The Old Testament's use for Christians today is in the light and lens of the New Testament. The innerrancy vs. total fallibility dichotomy was invented by the protestants and Romans during the enlightenment, and it can be very difficult for protestants to disentangle themselves from this baggage.

Regarding Dr. Ehrman, read this:

http://www.gregboyd.org/qa/bible/how-do-you-respond-to-ehrmans-book-misquoting-jesus/

This is a very orthodox (albeit, from a protestant) viewpoint, if I'm not mistaken

I enjoy Ehrman's works, by the way, taken with the proper salt. I did a lot of research, like you did, into the Old Testament as, at first, historically interesting literature-- and after a long journey and a conversion to Christianity I came to believe that the Old Testament is a document that is not always reliable as a literal history book, or a science book, does not self-interpret, and was compiled by many different authors. This document, however, explains to us the progressive revelation of God to man, *oftentimes in the very things that shock us today and make us question*! *Oftentimes in the very things that are not literally presented*! The very culture of the Pastoral-nomadic hebrews, and how it changes, reveals this so beautifully. It lights the way for the coming of the Son, as idols are stripped away and sacrifices finally illuminated in the light of the crucifixion and resurrection. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed states that the Holy Spirit "spoke by the Prophets".

In the end, you probably won't be satisfied with a modernist scholastic theology regarding the bible-- I don't think many are.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Asteriktos on October 03, 2010, 03:12:51 AM
Quote
Is it possible to lower my standard of what I previously considered the infallible word of God, and simply consider it largely a collection of allegories that contains some larger spiritual truth? Is there room for this view in Orthodoxy? How much leeway is there in believing the literal words of the bible?

I think a balance has to be realised. Take the genesis accounts, for example... I think a persuasive argument could be made that they are a mixture of literal truth and spiritual truth. On the one hand, some type of fall had to happen for Christian theology to make any sense: that need not be something that you can historically pin-point down to the exact year and location, but it had to happen. On the other hand, you take some of the things mentioned in the creation accounts, like the "garments of skin," and the Church Fathers seemed much more interested in the spiritual meaning of the terminology, and almost completely ignore whatever you might get from a literal understanding of the passage.

Of course, the tricky part is determining what is what. Was the story of Jonah a mixture, or literal, or spiritual? How about Moses fleeing Egypt? And the examples could be multiplied for a long time, but most importantly... what about the accounts of Jesus which speak of his death, burial, and resurrection? It seems to me that some things would have to be literal for Orthodoxy to be what it claims to be.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: MyMapleStory on October 03, 2010, 05:48:55 AM
Try studying or asking for answers on certain verses. There are plenty of sites that offer answer to many so called "Contradictions".
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 03, 2010, 09:13:47 AM
The complexity of life is evidence of nothing but complexity of life. To claim that complexity points to a supernatural creator is a logical fallacy. So is claiming that the universe existing is evidence for a creator. Also, the fact that you use the term "random chance" shows how well you understand evolution as a whole. No biologist is the world would claim life happens or is complex due to random chance. However, the fact that we dont know how everything got here does not, in any way, mean that "Goddidit"!!!1!!!11!!

AS far as the issues being problems to atheists, thats just not true. there are plenty of atheist apologetics that can answer you questions.

A certain level of complexity points shows the impossibility of chance as opposed to improbible.

I never mentioned evolution, I did talk about random chance. For a gene to become dominate, it must be created. However, genes cannot be crerated, the can only be traded or mutated. However mutation in reality isn't as miraculous of a 'random change' generator. The probabilities become irrelevant once a certain level of complexity is reached, I.e. When interdependencies require other interdependencies to be created simultaneously.

The allusion that God's logical result  is only believed by the uneducated shows prior bias and will hinder your ability to understand any opposing argument. Notice the effectiveness of the athiest opposion. (anyone who believes otherwise is a fool and uneducated)
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 03, 2010, 09:20:26 AM
The thing that I would find most difficult isn't regaining a belief in some sort of divine force, it is in the bible itself. I've literally gone through dozens of critiques that point to so-called contradictions, scientific innacuracies, and atrocities in the bible. Is there any turning back from this point? How can I regain my faith in a book that I've spent 6 months tearing down during my research? (The writings of Bart Ehrman had quite a bit to do with this as well) Is it possible to lower my standard of what I previously considered the infallible word of God, and simply consider it largely a collection of allegories that contains some larger spiritual truth? Is there room for this view in Orthodoxy? How much leeway is there in believing the literal words of the bible?

BTW, thanks for all the posts so far!  :)

If you want everything to be precise, perhaps you should be a RC. The enjoy precision theology.  ;D
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: theistgal on October 03, 2010, 11:18:18 AM
Quid, you used the interesting phrase "atheist apologetics".  You may want to question why atheism, which is supposedly simply "the absence of belief in god(s)", would need any kind of "apologetics" at all. :)

(And by the way, welcome! Although I am not Orthodox (yet! :D), I am Christian, but was an atheist for many years - in fact, I was once even a moderator at an atheist forum! So I am familiar with most of the arguments, and may be able to help you find a few of the answers.)

Also, if I may recommend a book, Martin Gardner's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Whys-Philosophical-Scrivener-Martin-Gardner/dp/0312206828/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1286119351&sr=8-3-fkmr1> "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener" [/url] helped me enormously in enabling me to be both a skeptic and a theist.  He is most definitely NOT a Christian, but you may find his explanations as to why he is not an atheist quite helpful.  :)
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 03, 2010, 01:24:03 PM
The complexity of life is evidence of nothing but complexity of life. To claim that complexity points to a supernatural creator is a logical fallacy. So is claiming that the universe existing is evidence for a creator. Also, the fact that you use the term "random chance" shows how well you understand evolution as a whole. No biologist is the world would claim life happens or is complex due to random chance. However, the fact that we dont know how everything got here does not, in any way, mean that "Goddidit"!!!1!!!11!!

AS far as the issues being problems to atheists, thats just not true. there are plenty of atheist apologetics that can answer you questions.

A certain level of complexity points shows the impossibility of chance as opposed to improbible.

I never mentioned evolution, I did talk about random chance. For a gene to become dominate, it must be created. However, genes cannot be crerated, the can only be traded or mutated. However mutation in reality isn't as miraculous of a 'random change' generator. The probabilities become irrelevant once a certain level of complexity is reached, I.e. When interdependencies require other interdependencies to be created simultaneously.

The allusion that God's logical result  is only believed by the uneducated shows prior bias and will hinder your ability to understand any opposing argument. Notice the effectiveness of the athiest opposion. (anyone who believes otherwise is a fool and uneducated)

Who said anything about chance? But for the sake of argument, why?

Whos says a dominate gene must be created? Who says that creator must be divine? Why must that divine creator be the Christian God?

I dont think thats fair to say that is all atheists opposition.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 03, 2010, 01:28:33 PM
Quid, you used the interesting phrase "atheist apologetics".  You may want to question why atheism, which is supposedly simply "the absence of belief in god(s)", would need any kind of "apologetics" at all. :)

(And by the way, welcome! Although I am not Orthodox (yet! :D), I am Christian, but was an atheist for many years - in fact, I was once even a moderator at an atheist forum! So I am familiar with most of the arguments, and may be able to help you find a few of the answers.)

Also, if I may recommend a book, Martin Gardner's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Whys-Philosophical-Scrivener-Martin-Gardner/dp/0312206828/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1286119351&sr=8-3-fkmr1> "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener" [/url] helped me enormously in enabling me to be both a skeptic and a theist.  He is most definitely NOT a Christian, but you may find his explanations as to why he is not an atheist quite helpful.  :)

Its just a term I threw out there. I was by no means speaking for atheism as a whole. But I do tend to see a lot of atheists having to defend their stance in skepticism.

Cool, Ill check it out. To clear the record, I dont care either way if there is evidence for God or not. Ive just never heard a sound argument for God, much less the Christian God, but if I come across one thats awesome. Except it would make me question why faith is regarded so high amongst Christians.

Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Asteriktos on October 03, 2010, 02:16:31 PM
For a gene to become dominate,

Whos says a dominate gene must be created?

[grammar nazi]It's dominant, not dominate. [/nazi]  :police:

I don't know why I chose to respond to that in particular, since I've disagreed with roughly 1,347 other things said in this thread, but anyway... you are all now free to critique my own sloppy English ;)
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: pupacios on October 03, 2010, 02:57:48 PM
for me the discovery of the Christian Orthodox has been the greatest thing in my life. I was not born into this Church as I was Baptised Methodist as a child. I was raised by atheist parents but had to search for my own meaning and understanding. This took me on a journey of religions and including Free Masonry,  and through many periods of self discipline followed by adverse reaction or lapses into atheism. The study of Buddhism was the last exploration about 10 years ago and I learned many good things however it was the realisation that my very act of searching was causing me unhappiness and the desire to solve everything and explain everything. So I stopped searching and got on with my life and felt that when my time was right then things would be revealed to me and I would understand if there was any purpose. And it was revealed to me and last year I converted to Romanian Eastern Orthodox and it is a creed that allows me to accept mystery and that not everything can be explained and I am a happier and better man because of it. I hope you can find your way and if in nothing else then in a good code for life that you can follow 
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: pupacios on October 03, 2010, 03:02:15 PM
this is not an Orthodox site but it has some interesting answers that make one think about Creation and design !http://www.allaboutthejourney.org/
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 03, 2010, 03:22:33 PM
A certain level of complexity points shows the impossibility of chance as opposed to improbible.

I never mentioned evolution, I did talk about random chance. For a gene to become dominate, it must be created. However, genes cannot be crerated, the can only be traded or mutated. However mutation in reality isn't as miraculous of a 'random change' generator. The probabilities become irrelevant once a certain level of complexity is reached, I.e. When interdependencies require other interdependencies to be created simultaneously.

The allusion that God's logical result  is only believed by the uneducated shows prior bias and will hinder your ability to understand any opposing argument. Notice the effectiveness of the athiest opposion. (anyone who believes otherwise is a fool and uneducated)

Who said anything about chance? But for the sake of argument, why?

Whos says a dominate gene must be created? Who says that creator must be divine? Why must that divine creator be the Christian God?

I dont think thats fair to say that is all atheists opposition.

Chance vs creation/will is the basic difference between atheism and theism. If it was not willed, it is here by chance and happenstance.

If the "creator" is not divine, then who created the created 'creator'.

Christian God? You have to walk before you can run. If you're in atheist land, you must be able to accept God in principle before accepting Him totally.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Jetavan on October 03, 2010, 04:39:24 PM
If you're in atheist land, you must be able to accept God in principle before accepting Him totally.
I would say that between atheism and belief in God, there is another step: acknowledging the possibility that the realm of matter/energy, as measurable by the instruments of modern science, is not the only reality.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: jnorm888 on October 03, 2010, 05:10:08 PM
The thing that I would find most difficult isn't regaining a belief in some sort of divine force, it is in the bible itself. I've literally gone through dozens of critiques that point to so-called contradictions, scientific innacuracies, and atrocities in the bible. Is there any turning back from this point? How can I regain my faith in a book that I've spent 6 months tearing down during my research? (The writings of Bart Ehrman had quite a bit to do with this as well) Is it possible to lower my standard of what I previously considered the infallible word of God, and simply consider it largely a collection of allegories that contains some larger spiritual truth? Is there room for this view in Orthodoxy? How much leeway is there in believing the literal words of the bible?

BTW, thanks for all the posts so far!  :)

How about spending 6 months reading books that would defend the Bible, and then ask the question. I think now would be too soon to ask. There are alot of presuppositions that you have right now that need to be questioned and critiqued. And that will take time, and so just take it by faith one step at a time. Don't assume that you have to figure everything out first in order to believe it.

Spend the next 6 months reading things and listening to things that will edify instead of destroy. We are what we eat! And we will eventually become what we eat!

Just remember that If you do this, there will be no guaranty that you will automatically come out believing Everything in the Bible (I believe Everything in the Bible)  But you might come out somewhere in the middle. So don't ask this question now, instead wait 6 more months after you read and listened to more edifying things.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: jnorm888 on October 03, 2010, 05:42:22 PM
Check this out! I'm only gonna post 1/4 of it........it's pretty hard to find online.

http://web.archive.org/web/20021130230538/www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pines/7224/Rick/essay1.html (http://web.archive.org/web/20021130230538/www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pines/7224/Rick/essay1.html) (Christianity and Materialistic Reductionism
My Return to the Christian Faith
© 1999, 2000 by R. Grant Jones)

Quote
Quote:
"Introduction
I have often encountered the attitude, frequently stated with evangelical zeal, that modern science has undermined the intellectual credibility of  the Christian faith.  Though it is held by persons with advanced degrees in the physical sciences, this viewpoint also seems to be common among those who have little formal education in the sciences.  It is clear that many who hold this opinion were raised by fundamentalists parents, and so perceive an insurmountable barrier between the evolution of species and the Genesis six-day creation account.  It is probably true that few of them (in my experience, this applies to research scientists and laymen equally) have read or thought deeply about the philosophy of science and the relationship between theories and truth.  In my opinion, lack of interest in the ontological implications of physical theories and in the history of their development often translates into an uncritical, perhaps subconscious acceptance of materialism.  In what follows, I will explain why I think that is unforturnate.  But, before I proceed, let me explain that by “materialism” I am not referring to the lust for worldly possessions, influence, and fame, but to a worldview which holds that every event, object and process we encounter is the result of the interaction of fundamental particles according to the laws of physics.

I shared this world view and the deprecatory attitude toward Christianity for a period of my life, beginning in about 1970.  After a light childhood indoctrination into Christianity, I became a serious nonbeliever in my teenage years.  Christianity, as I saw it, was the religion of the dull and the weak - self-contradictory, with its loving God who commanded the slaughter of thousands.  Oddly, when I discarded the Christian faith, I didn’t abandon all interest in religion.  During my undergraduate years, I was attracted to Taoism, and read the works of Lao Tsu and Chuang Tsu.  I also toyed with Norse and Celtic mythology.  Then, in graduate school, I studied the sutras in Goddard’s Buddhist Bible.  This continuing attraction to other belief systems was undoubtedly inconsistent on my part, a kind of ‘whoring after’ other gods, because I was a student of physics and a disciple of modern materialism.

This is the account of how I returned to the true faith.

Reductionism
As a teenager, I was drawn to philosophy, metaphysics in particular.  Metaphysics in this context has nothing to do with astrology, reincarnation, or Tarot cards; rather, I mean that branch of philosophy which deals with the first prinicples of reality, with what all this is.  In retrospect, it seems incongruous, but it was this desire to understand the hidden essence of the universe, to grasp its deepest significance, that led me to major in physics in college.  And I continued to read philosophy extensively on my own while pursuing my degree.  Of the branches of philosophy, ontology alone truly interested me.  I started with a naive faith in scientific knowledge, in the ‘knowability’ of facts and laws through the so-called scientific method, so I didn’t much worry epistemological problems.  That was where I erred, in positing a knowledge of the principle truths of reality on the basis of successful physical theory.  I suppose this error is common to many atheists.

After all, the young man learning Euclidean geometry is impressed with the inexorable system of logic by which grand truths are derived from simple axioms.  Surely, the conclusion is true, and true absolutely.  He never (at least, very rarely) really wonders where the axioms come from or whether they are true.  ‘Axiom’ derives from the Greek word axioV, meaning worthy.   How is the degree of worthiness - a value judgment - to be determined?  By prediction and measurement.  The young man’s confidence in the Euclidean system is reinforced by testing predictions made on the basis of these derived truths.  He measures the hypotenuse of a right triangle, of several right triangles, and discovers Pythagoras’ theorem to be accurate each time.  Later, on a more sophisticated stage, the same basic features reappear.  Testable predictions are derived from a complex sequence of mathematics.  In the laboratory, measurements are made objectively, and laws are “proven” by experiments, endlessly repeated.  The question of whether faith is required to believe in the law of induction is not a doubt that commonly arises.  In addition to the appeal of powerful logic and empirical validation, there is also a social factor at work.  In contrast with religious ‘knowledge,’science and mathematics are done by educated men and women, whereas religion - so it seemed to me, having encountered it in small towns in the Sourthern United States - is the province of rustic simpletons, ready to believe in stories of spooks at the hoot of an owl.  Logic, verification through measurement, and the air of superior intelligence combine to seal out any suspicion that the utility of a theory need not equate to its truth.

My lack of curiosity regarding epistemology - the question of whether theory gave me insight into the workings of the universe, or just useful tools for making calculations which have no necessary connection to underlying reality - was coupled with a willingness to accept reductionism.1  In the reductionist view, macroscopic objects and processes are explicable in terms of simpler and smaller ones:  atoms come from electrons and nucleons and molecules from atoms, all chemistry is the result of the physics of molecules, and all biology grows out of chemistry.  It is, of course, natural to accept this view, bolstered as it is by the fantastic successes of applied science.  It leads, of course, to the conclusion that the mind is nothing but the activity of the brain.  There is no soul, no spirit, no nouV - only matter in motion.  As Carl Sagan was wont to say, “The universe [he meant the corporeal universe] is all there is and all there was and all there ever will be.”  But one should ask, did he know this, or was he deluded by enthusiasm for the logical, empirically validated field he loved?

Falsifiability and Newtonian Mechanics

Given the appeal of the scientific method it is fortunate that, while still an undergraduate, I came across Karl Popper’s Logic of Scientific Discovery.  At the time, I was greatly interested in the philosophy of quantum mechanics and genuinely disliked the Copenhagen interpretation2.  It seemed to me that waves must be waves and particles, particles.  Electrons could not become waves when it was convenient (to pass through a slit in such a way as to generate a particular (no pun intended) diffraction pattern) but then revert to particles (to make a point in the pattern).  Karl Popper defended that viewpoint, and he gave a respectability to our ‘politically incorrect,’ schismatic interpretation.  His alternate explanation has to do with Lande’s postulate3 on momentum transfer between a rigid body and a particle.  But I'll not go into the details of the alternate interpretation, since that isn’t why I've mentioned Popper here.  The Aspect experiments4 of a few years back, which demonstrated the instantaneous effect of experimental measurement decisions on polarized light, make Popper’s view (what was then my view), if not untenable, at the least very difficult to maintain.  Popper is important to me because he was my entry point into the world of operationalism, and from there, to epistemology5.

Operationalism is the view of a philosophical school (led in the mid-twentieth century by Rudolph Carnap of the Vienna Circle) which holds that theoretical concepts in science must be expressed in terms of measuring operations.  Force is defined in terms of the stretching of a spring, for instance.  To understand the motivation behind operationalism, recall that, at the turn of the century, physicists believed in the ‘ether,’an invisible plenum which carried electromagnetic radiation.  Lorentz had postulated ether pressure as the explanation for the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment to measure variations of the speed of light with respect to laboratory system velocity.  Einstein had solved the Michelson-Morley problem without an ether, and so had effectively proven that there is no ether.  To the Vienna Circle philosophers, the course of events had demonstrated the danger of thinking about physics by analogy (in Lorentz’s case, comparing sound waves which require a medium with light waves, which do not) and including immensurable concepts (like the ether) in the theory.

To the operationalists, the truth of a scientific theory could be demonstrated by comparing measurement operations against the theory’s predictions.  But Popper disagreed - and here I believe he is brilliantly correct.  In Popper’s view, when a scientific theory which makes predictions is tested by experiment, the theory can be falsified if predictions and measurements disagree6.  Thus, the theorist can know if he is wrong.  But he will never know with certainty that his theory is right, because the possibility will always remain that a future experiment will falsify his theory.  What does this imply?

Consider Newtonian mechanics.  In the apocryphal account, Newton was beneath a tree when an apple fell on his head.  Thereupon he postulated that the force tugging on the apple was inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the apple’s core and the earth’s, and directly proportional to the product of their masses.  His theory also included the famous expression F=ma .  With these postulates, Newton successfully derived the elliptical trajectories of the planets.  Over the centuries his theory was expanded to model the flow of fluids, and thanks (at least in part) to Newton, we have trains and automobiles and airplanes (think of the fluid mechanics of the air flow around wings).  The Apollo astronauts flew to the moon using Newton’s equations.  This wonderfully successful theory is responsible for many of the technological advances we enjoy today.  And yet, Newtonian mechanics has been falsified.  It is wrong.

What do I mean by that assertion?  Newton’s equations make predictions that are demonstrably incorrect.  At high speeds, for instance, Newton predicts the kinetic energy of an object will increase as the velocity squared, for any velocity.  But it doesn’t.7  That’s just one example.  There are many others.  But one is all it takes.  Newton’s theory is in error, incorrect, wrong.

Implications from the Fall of Newtonian Mechanics
Is the fact that Newtonian Mechanics has been proven false of any consequence?  Emphatically yes, from two points of view.  I’ve already hinted at the first.  There is a very strong cultural bias in favor of the truth of the reductionist world view (and hence in favor of materialism and against religion) due to its utility and application through scientific theories to the concerns of civilization.  The young scholar uses the Pythagorean theorem to predict the length of a side of the right triangle, measures it, and concludes that the theorem is true.  Similarly, our more complex scientific theories make correct predictions about physical reality, and we employ them to develop useful technologies - the utility of the technologies in turn acting as a witness to the truth of the theories.  Yet, here we have a theory that is eminently applicable, extremely productive and helpful in numerous ways, at one time assumed to be universally valid, yet false.  It works well at low velocities, but begins to fail as speeds approach that of light.  There is a clear limit to its applicability.

The second point is perhaps even more important.  Newtonian mechanics is not just a set of equations allowing us to make predictions for use in engineering applications.  It is a locus of assumptions about the nature of the universe.  Newtonian mechanics claims that there is an absolute or preferred reference frame which is at rest and all others are in motion with respect to it - that is, that being still is really different from being in motion.  Newton’s mechanics insists that spatially separated objects interact instantaneously.  It indicates that time as a variable is independent of space - just as our common sense tells us.  Lavoisier’s statement in 1789 that mass (a measure of the amount of matter) is conserved within an isolated system (even where chemical reactions occur) parallels Newton’s assumption that the mass of an object in isolation remains a constant.  The principle of the conservation of energy was slowly defined on the basis of Newton's equations of motion over the centuries, with Huygens, Leibniz and Lagrange playing key roles.  With the fall of Newtonian mechanics, we no longer have any scientific reason to believe these things about our universe.  In fact, if we were to become carried away by the success of Einstein’s theories of relativity, we would likely say that all of these fundamental statements about the nature of the universe are false,8 though they may appear to be true under certain conditions.  For instance, in Einstein’s special theory of relativity, all reference frames moving at any  velocity are equivalent, as long as they do not accelerate - uniform motion is really the same as bbeing still.  Time is tightly coupled to location.  No two objects can interact instantaneously - the interactions propagates at a speedd limited by that of light in a vacuum.  Mass and energy are no longer seen as independently conserved, but mass can become energy, and energy, mass.  From the perspective of one who thinks theory is reality, the rejection of Newtonian mechanics and its replacement with the theory of relativity must have seemed like a cosmic upheaval - his basic assumptions about reality had been pitched into a lake of fire to be supplanted by a New Jerusalem of theoretical assumptions.

(Another change in our way of thinking about the universe warranted by the success of Einstein’s theory,  mentioned earlier in this essay, involves the ether.  Strictly speaking, Newton’s physics dealt with objects acting instantaneously at a distance, and had no need for intervening fields and a medium through which those fields propagated.  In the nineteenth century, however, vector fields of electric force and magnetic induction were employed to model electromagnetic interactions.  It was thought that these force fields could only propagate through a material medium (called the ether).  After Einstein, our world view no longer had room for a material ether.)

The lesson of the fall of Newtonian mechanics is that utility does not equal truth.  Though it was fruitful in its natural regime, Newtonian mechanics failed when applied to objects moving at high velocities.  Its failure did not result in a minor adjustment to the theory, in small corrections to the equations of motion.  Instead, the view of basic reality presented by the theory was overturned.  And this is not an isolated case in the history of science.  When Copernicus’ superior theory of planetary motion replaced the system of Ptolemy, used since ancient times, the earth slipped from the center of the universe.  Galileo did not simply demonstrate a law of kinetic motion when he proved that objects of unequal weight fall at the same rate in a vacuum.  He demolished the theory of natures and natural tendencies with which Western man had explained the position and motion of the elements of our world since the time of Aristotle.  When in 1928 P.A.M. Dirac generalized the Schroedinger equation to a relativistically covariant form, he did not merely refine the capacity of quantum mechanics to predict the fine and hyperfine structure of atomic spectra.  He introduced a new entity into our world view - the antiparticle, which annihilates the corresponding particle upon collision.  After Dirac,  the universe must be viewed as containing two fundamentally distinct types of matter.  In each of these cases - and many other examples could be furnished - a change in theory implied a radical change in world view.

Each of these specific scientific theories relies upon the reductionist hypothesis, that all observed phenomena can be explained in terms of abstract models of objects and their interactions.  This approach has been very productive, and there is currently no compelling scientific reason to abandon it as a guiding principle for scientific research.  Nor am I aware of any rival “metaphysical research programs.”  Yet, as we have seen in the case of individual physical theories, utility, productivity, accuracy in predictive ability within a tested range, do not guarantee that the images of the cosmos painted by these theories are accurate.  New theories arise and make significant changes, sometimes to the point of burning the old canvas and starting fresh.  It is possible in principle there will come a time when the reductionist hypothesis itself will be discarded in order to allow for the development of theories which account for a broader spectrum of phenomena.  As an example of a non-reductionist notion, consider the proposal Dirac made (I personally heard him expound it at Colorado University in around 1980) toward the end of his life that many of the fundamental constants of physics are functions of the age of the universe - that they vary with time.  Another example is the old Steady State cosmological theory, which posited the formation of matter ex nihilo.

The appeal of the reductionist program - and the urge to kneel before this idol is very strong - depends upon success in the sciences and impressive technological applications.  Like Newtonian mechanics, the reductionist hypothesis has also proven very fruitful, in the regime of relatively simple systems.  But there is no guarantee that this success will continue indefinitely.  When Newtonian mechanics collapsed, encompassed by a broader mathematics, the impact to our world view was terrific.  How might our perspective on reality change if the reductionist hypothesis were replaced with a more comprehensive assumption?




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Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 03, 2010, 05:53:24 PM
A certain level of complexity points shows the impossibility of chance as opposed to improbible.

I never mentioned evolution, I did talk about random chance. For a gene to become dominate, it must be created. However, genes cannot be crerated, the can only be traded or mutated. However mutation in reality isn't as miraculous of a 'random change' generator. The probabilities become irrelevant once a certain level of complexity is reached, I.e. When interdependencies require other interdependencies to be created simultaneously.

The allusion that God's logical result  is only believed by the uneducated shows prior bias and will hinder your ability to understand any opposing argument. Notice the effectiveness of the athiest opposion. (anyone who believes otherwise is a fool and uneducated)

Who said anything about chance? But for the sake of argument, why?

Whos says a dominate gene must be created? Who says that creator must be divine? Why must that divine creator be the Christian God?

I dont think thats fair to say that is all atheists opposition.

Chance vs creation/will is the basic difference between atheism and theism. If it was not willed, it is here by chance and happenstance.

If the "creator" is not divine, then who created the created 'creator'.

Christian God? You have to walk before you can run. If you're in atheist land, you must be able to accept God in principle before accepting Him totally.

Again, no atheist that I am aware of argues chance. Its simply a lack of belief due to lack of evidence.

Who created the creator? We dont know, and may never know, but claiming God did it is jumping to conclusions and fallacious. Hence why most everyone is agnostic.

Another poster gave a good response to your last point.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: HandmaidenofGod on October 03, 2010, 06:10:26 PM
Lord have mercy!
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: jnorm888 on October 03, 2010, 06:28:31 PM
A certain level of complexity points shows the impossibility of chance as opposed to improbible.

I never mentioned evolution, I did talk about random chance. For a gene to become dominate, it must be created. However, genes cannot be crerated, the can only be traded or mutated. However mutation in reality isn't as miraculous of a 'random change' generator. The probabilities become irrelevant once a certain level of complexity is reached, I.e. When interdependencies require other interdependencies to be created simultaneously.

The allusion that God's logical result  is only believed by the uneducated shows prior bias and will hinder your ability to understand any opposing argument. Notice the effectiveness of the athiest opposion. (anyone who believes otherwise is a fool and uneducated)

Who said anything about chance? But for the sake of argument, why?

Whos says a dominate gene must be created? Who says that creator must be divine? Why must that divine creator be the Christian God?

I dont think thats fair to say that is all atheists opposition.

Chance vs creation/will is the basic difference between atheism and theism. If it was not willed, it is here by chance and happenstance.

If the "creator" is not divine, then who created the created 'creator'.

Christian God? You have to walk before you can run. If you're in atheist land, you must be able to accept God in principle before accepting Him totally.

Again, no atheist that I am aware of argues chance. Its simply a lack of belief due to lack of evidence.

Who created the creator? We dont know, and may never know, but claiming God did it is jumping to conclusions and fallacious. Hence why most everyone is agnostic.

Another poster gave a good response to your last point.

I ran into a number of real breathing atheists on myspace that used the word "chance".
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 03, 2010, 06:59:29 PM
A certain level of complexity points shows the impossibility of chance as opposed to improbible.

I never mentioned evolution, I did talk about random chance. For a gene to become dominate, it must be created. However, genes cannot be crerated, the can only be traded or mutated. However mutation in reality isn't as miraculous of a 'random change' generator. The probabilities become irrelevant once a certain level of complexity is reached, I.e. When interdependencies require other interdependencies to be created simultaneously.

The allusion that God's logical result  is only believed by the uneducated shows prior bias and will hinder your ability to understand any opposing argument. Notice the effectiveness of the athiest opposion. (anyone who believes otherwise is a fool and uneducated)

Who said anything about chance? But for the sake of argument, why?

Whos says a dominate gene must be created? Who says that creator must be divine? Why must that divine creator be the Christian God?

I dont think thats fair to say that is all atheists opposition.

Chance vs creation/will is the basic difference between atheism and theism. If it was not willed, it is here by chance and happenstance.

If the "creator" is not divine, then who created the created 'creator'.

Christian God? You have to walk before you can run. If you're in atheist land, you must be able to accept God in principle before accepting Him totally.

Again, no atheist that I am aware of argues chance. Its simply a lack of belief due to lack of evidence.

Who created the creator? We dont know, and may never know, but claiming God did it is jumping to conclusions and fallacious. Hence why most everyone is agnostic.

Another poster gave a good response to your last point.

I ran into a number of real breathing atheists on myspace that used the word "chance".

Im sure it happens. Depends on what level of atheist we are dealing with.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: theistgal on October 03, 2010, 07:49:55 PM
That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  ;D

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  8) )
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 03, 2010, 07:57:12 PM
That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  ;D

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  8) )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Father H on October 03, 2010, 08:01:21 PM
I would also advise that you refrain from asking yourself, every other moment, "Do I believe in God now? Do I feel his presence now? Is this information meaningful to me now?" Because this is essentially allowing oneself to be guided by egocentric sensualism. It is a temptation that I often face.

An excellent post. 
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Saint Iaint on October 03, 2010, 09:43:27 PM
Quote from: Ortho_cat
"I just didn't see any reason to believe in a God, nor did I see any compelling evidence that would lead me to believe there was one."
Quote
"The thing that I would find most difficult isn't regaining a belief in some sort of divine force, it is in the bible itself. I've literally gone through dozens of critiques that point to so-called contradictions, scientific innacuracies, and atrocities in the bible. Is there any turning back from this point? How can I regain my faith in a book that I've spent 6 months tearing down during my research?"

Check this out:

Jesus the Christ Is the Fulfillment of the Old Testament... Mathematical Verification Through the Science of Probability That Jesus Has Fulfilled All of The Old Testament Prophecies Concerning His Coming (http://christconquers.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/jesus-the-christ-is-the-fulfillment-of-the-old-testament/)

†IC XC†
†NI KA†
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Papist on October 03, 2010, 09:51:46 PM
Otho_Cat,
You will be in my prayers.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Tzimis on October 03, 2010, 10:12:55 PM
That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  ;D

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  8) )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
I agree. But I'll go one step further. Faith is something that is projected into some future event. If that future event were to happen at this moment. Faith would be realized and no longer needed. In other words. If you had Christ in front of you this moment you wouldn't need faith in him because He'd would be here now. faith would turn into evidence.
BTW. Welcome.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 03, 2010, 10:14:45 PM
Thanks all for the replies and prayers.

One thing that I seem to keep coming back to in my mind is that the human brain wants religion. It instinctively wants to believe in an afterlife. It wants to believe that the universe isn't ultimately destined for an eventual heat death. The idea that there is no grand purpose for the universe seems repulsive. The idea that we are ultimately nothing but a manifestation of our brain's conciousness, which by itself is nothing but a series of complex chemical reactions seems incomprehensible.

Are these instinctive desires simply a malfunction or side-effect of our brains higher cognitive functions? Perhaps, but it is certainly much more palatable to think that this need for religion is purposeful and not just an accident of nature.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Tikhon.of.Colorado on October 03, 2010, 11:13:23 PM
well, when I was 13, I was very depressed.  I never got into Atheism, but "Wicca".  I prayed to the "Moon Goddess" to help me reap vengence on those who bullied me.  I would wake up and stare at the cross I recieved as a baby when I was baptized Presbyterian and say "God, I renounce you.  Your an oppressive Bully" (well, I didn't say "bully", but you get the picture.)   I committed the worst possible sin, I denied the Holy Spirit.   :-[   

I was so wierd!  I put up a penticle and a goat-headed God plaque up on my wall, I would make different potions with crystals, and read tarot cards and palms.  I was really into it. 

Now, I can't express how sorry I am to God for this most terrible sin.  I confessed it and felt such peace!  my guilt was just lifted like a chain from a prisoner's chest!

God heals all!  just as he healed my heart, torn my paganism and hatred, so shall he heal yours!!!!!
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: quietmorning on October 04, 2010, 08:55:50 AM
Good morning Ortho-cat,

I read your post when it first came up - please forgive my lateness in coming in on this.

I don't have anything schoolastic to offer. . .but I'll offer something someone said to me when I was in a time of severe trial and horrendous doubt, and then I'll answer a more recent experience (again a long severe trial) and what it brought me to.  Perhaps they will help.  It's always good to know that we are not alone in our struggles.  

I was suicidal as a late teen - there was a lot of hardship and hurt, and I couldn't find any prayer within myself. . .very very dark.  A friend of mine asked me if I read the Bible and followed it.  At the time, I didn't have one.  I read it before. . .but through my years of 16 through 19 it fell to the wayside.  He said, "Why should He listen to you, if you won't listen to Him?"  That night I picked it up and started reading it every day. . .and in it I found hope. . .and wonderful prayers that I could pray (Psalms) and guidance. . . and the part of me that 'experienced' God stirred again. . . those words saved my life.

Many many years later my life flipped a couple of times. . .and it was one thing after another - and often, one thing added to the other without being resolved and then two or three things would hit at once . . .from every side. . .and I found that He was breaking my heart to make my heart into something He could use.  It was pretty prideful and pretty hard.  I was unteachable and stiff necked.  But that iron clamp just kept twisting down another notch until my heart quite shattered.  I found myself in my office praying the Niceene Creed over and over again... .yelling it, actually. . . REFUSING to give up my faith to deadness.  I already felt destroyed and dead. . .but I wasn't. . . my faith was being tested.  When I started STANDING in my faith (stubbornly absolutely standing against the destruction of my faith) THAT'S when suddenly I was surrounded with people who were perfect to help me heal.  I mean, absolutely PERFECT.  

Sometimes these dark times. . .when we doubt there is a God is the very time that we are being brought to a crux . . . do we believe?  Will we stand?  Will we fight?  Will we go through this trial and endure?  It feels like atheism. . .it's so full of doubt and hurt.  But on the other side. . .if we will cry out and cry out and cry out. . .and stand against the force of the wind, rain, storm and tidal waves - it is then that He breaks our heart and makes it soft and pliable.  We become humble and a usable vessel.  I count myself, today, incredibly blessed for going through so much doubt and angst. . .and broken heartedness. . . because the outcome is tremendous.  It's His Name glorified.  

Neither one of these events was a month or two. . .but years.  The last one, nearly a decade - but He knows what He's doing.  He's making a vessel for Himself that is not only suitable for use, but suitable for use in holy things.  
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: quietmorning on October 04, 2010, 08:57:41 AM
My apologies, I pressed quote again, instead of the modify button.    :-[
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: PeterTheAleut on October 04, 2010, 02:25:32 PM
Quote from: Ortho_cat
"I just didn't see any reason to believe in a God, nor did I see any compelling evidence that would lead me to believe there was one."
Quote
"The thing that I would find most difficult isn't regaining a belief in some sort of divine force, it is in the bible itself. I've literally gone through dozens of critiques that point to so-called contradictions, scientific innacuracies, and atrocities in the bible. Is there any turning back from this point? How can I regain my faith in a book that I've spent 6 months tearing down during my research?"

Check this out:

Jesus the Christ Is the Fulfillment of the Old Testament... Mathematical Verification Through the Science of Probability That Jesus Has Fulfilled All of The Old Testament Prophecies Concerning His Coming (http://christconquers.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/jesus-the-christ-is-the-fulfillment-of-the-old-testament/)

†IC XC†
†NI KA†

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Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 04, 2010, 06:38:44 PM
That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  ;D

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  8) )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
I agree. But I'll go one step further. Faith is something that is projected into some future event. If that future event were to happen at this moment. Faith would be realized and no longer needed. In other words. If you had Christ in front of you this moment you wouldn't need faith in him because He'd would be here now. faith would turn into evidence.
BTW. Welcome.

I concur completely, and thank you.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 04, 2010, 09:18:43 PM
That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  ;D

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  8) )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
I agree. But I'll go one step further. Faith is something that is projected into some future event. If that future event were to happen at this moment. Faith would be realized and no longer needed. In other words. If you had Christ in front of you this moment you wouldn't need faith in him because He'd would be here now. faith would turn into evidence.
BTW. Welcome.

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 04, 2010, 09:41:03 PM
That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  ;D

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  8) )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
I agree. But I'll go one step further. Faith is something that is projected into some future event. If that future event were to happen at this moment. Faith would be realized and no longer needed. In other words. If you had Christ in front of you this moment you wouldn't need faith in him because He'd would be here now. faith would turn into evidence.
BTW. Welcome.

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 04, 2010, 10:01:23 PM
That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  ;D

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  8) )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
I agree. But I'll go one step further. Faith is something that is projected into some future event. If that future event were to happen at this moment. Faith would be realized and no longer needed. In other words. If you had Christ in front of you this moment you wouldn't need faith in him because He'd would be here now. faith would turn into evidence.
BTW. Welcome.

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 04, 2010, 10:02:04 PM
That's a good point, Quid - there is this annoying (yet very human) tendency to try and fit everyone into a "box" - here's the atheist box, you're an atheist, therefore you think and believe exactly what all other atheists believe - you MUST agree with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. !

And atheists do the same thing - if you're a Christian, no matter what variety, you have to climb into the same box with Fred Phelps and Jack Chick.

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

One of the things that pushed me closer to theism than to atheism is simply this:  each human being is so very different, once you get past the surface, that you really can't find enough boxes for everyone!  ;D

(That's not a proof of God, of course, more of a confirmation of a belief I was already leaning into. But you get the idea, I hope.  8) )

Exactly. Things have qualifiers, beyond that its a buffet of ideals and opinions. I was atheist for a long long time and became Orthodox after having a religious experience in the Orthodox church. That is no way proof or evidence of God, but it gave me something and set me up to have faith. Faith and evidence are mutually exclusive. If you have one you can't have the other. Which makes a lot of sense in my book.
I agree. But I'll go one step further. Faith is something that is projected into some future event. If that future event were to happen at this moment. Faith would be realized and no longer needed. In other words. If you had Christ in front of you this moment you wouldn't need faith in him because He'd would be here now. faith would turn into evidence.
BTW. Welcome.

I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 04, 2010, 10:13:44 PM
I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

Can't say I agree, completely. To say true faith is only blind faith means the only reason for faith can be hope and wishful thinking.

Faith with reason(s), is a faith 'from' purpose. Id est, I believe because "of the fullness that I become when I pray", "the complexity of life", "the grandeur, order, and mortality of the universe", "the miracles that become of my faith", etc.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Asteriktos on October 04, 2010, 10:17:27 PM
Yes, faith is blind by nature.

I'd say that the exact opposite is true: it's impossible to have blind faith. IMO a process of conceptualizing or comprehending information must take place before you can have "faith" in something.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 04, 2010, 10:20:43 PM
I would say that a person's faith is ultimately justified by evidence, whether that be empirical or experiential. Otherwise, a person would have no good reason to choose one belief system over another; i.e. they would all be equally valid.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 04, 2010, 10:22:29 PM
I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

Can't say I agree, completely. To say true faith is only blind faith means the only reason for faith can be hope and wishful thinking.

Faith with reason(s), is a faith 'from' purpose. Id est, I believe because "of the fullness that I become when I pray", "the complexity of life", "the grandeur, order, and mortality of the universe", "the miracles that become of my faith", etc.

Well thats got more to do with the definition evidence moreso than the definition of faith.

When I say that faith and evidence are mutually exclusive I mean faith and empirical evidence. Faith and anecdotal evidence can certainly coexist. All the above situations you mentioned are anecdotal. The reason Im not longer an atheist is due to religious experience(s) I have had in the church. Those are anecdotal, not empirical, and can certainly coexist with faith.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 04, 2010, 10:24:06 PM
Yes, faith is blind by nature.

I'd say that the exact opposite is true: it's impossible to have blind faith. IMO a process of conceptualizing or comprehending information must take place before you can have "faith" in something.

Like I said before, I was referring to anecdotal evidence as opposed to empirical evidence.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 04, 2010, 10:26:59 PM
I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

Can't say I agree, completely. To say true faith is only blind faith means the only reason for faith can be hope and wishful thinking.

Faith with reason(s), is a faith 'from' purpose. Id est, I believe because "of the fullness that I become when I pray", "the complexity of life", "the grandeur, order, and mortality of the universe", "the miracles that become of my faith", etc.

Well thats got more to do with the definition evidence moreso than the definition of faith.

When I say that faith and evidence are mutually exclusive I mean faith and empirical evidence. Faith and anecdotal evidence can certainly coexist. All the above situations you mentioned are anecdotal. The reason Im not longer an atheist is due to religious experience(s) I have had in the church. Those are anecdotal, not empirical, and can certainly coexist with faith.

em·pir·i·cal   [em-pir-i-kuh l]
-adjective
1. derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.
3. provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.

I think you mean hard evidence. As in, I know God exists because I just got off the phone with Him. BTW, he said that you little sister that died says hi.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 04, 2010, 10:28:55 PM
I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 04, 2010, 10:33:11 PM
I disagree. I do so because you seem to say all faith is "blind faith". Faith can also mean believing in something bigger from which you have minuscule evidence for (in comparison).

Even science requires faith. You have proofs and evidences to discribe something you are currently unable to see or directly measure, but is none the less real.

thats the point. When proof and and evidence is there then faith is gone. Faith exist when there is no proof or evidence.

So you're saying, unless you have blind faith, you really have no faith at all?

Yes, faith is blind by nature.

Can't say I agree, completely. To say true faith is only blind faith means the only reason for faith can be hope and wishful thinking.

Faith with reason(s), is a faith 'from' purpose. Id est, I believe because "of the fullness that I become when I pray", "the complexity of life", "the grandeur, order, and mortality of the universe", "the miracles that become of my faith", etc.

Well thats got more to do with the definition evidence moreso than the definition of faith.

When I say that faith and evidence are mutually exclusive I mean faith and empirical evidence. Faith and anecdotal evidence can certainly coexist. All the above situations you mentioned are anecdotal. The reason Im not longer an atheist is due to religious experience(s) I have had in the church. Those are anecdotal, not empirical, and can certainly coexist with faith.

em·pir·i·cal   [em-pir-i-kuh l]
-adjective
1. derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.
3. provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.

I think you mean hard evidence. As in, I know God exists because I just got off the phone with Him. BTW, he said that you little sister that died says hi.

Number three there is about what I meant. Something at least testable.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 04, 2010, 10:36:20 PM
I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 04, 2010, 10:51:28 PM
I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 04, 2010, 10:59:07 PM
I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 04, 2010, 11:40:19 PM
I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.

That is another lie that is circulated. There is plenty of historical mention from the same time referencing Jesus. When I'm at my other computer tomorrow, I'll try to get you some sources.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Asteriktos on October 05, 2010, 12:10:21 AM
That is another lie that is circulated. There is plenty of historical mention from the same time referencing Jesus. When I'm at my other computer tomorrow, I'll try to get you some sources.

"From the same time"? Unless you have some references I'm not aware of, or we have different ideas as to what qualifies as "the same time," isn't that stretching it a bit? The extra-biblical Christian sources would seem to date to the mid-90's CE and later (Clement of Rome, Ignatius, etc.), and the non-Christian sources, with the possible exceptions of Mara bar Sarapion (c. 75 CE) and Josephus (c. 93 CE) would seem to date to the 2nd century or later (Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, etc.) Some would put certain Talmudic references in the late 1st century (70's CE or later), though it's my impression that these passages could just as well come from a hundred years later. So, unless I've got things wrong, there are no extra-biblical references to Jesus before the 70's CE... a gap of about 40 years. What's more, even the earliest New Testament writings were probably not written until the 50's CE, so there's a gap of 20 or so years (of course you could say that there were early versions of the gospels or sayings documents or whatever floating around, but that would be speculation, no?)
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 05, 2010, 12:44:18 AM
The earliest written references we have to Jesus are in the letters of Paul (~50AD), none of which document Jesus' miracles (safe for the resurrection), parables, or details of his passion. There are no known contemporary references.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Dart on October 05, 2010, 12:45:04 AM
Christianity: The belief that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.


Everybody laughs until they see it for themselves.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 05, 2010, 12:53:26 AM
I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.

Is it fair to say that Christianity was in "full swing" 100 years after Jesus' death? Didn't Christianity gain full strength only after Constantine I legalized it in the 4th century?
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 05, 2010, 01:02:55 AM
I would say that the bible, the persistence of christianity in one form or another, and the number of christian adherents, can all be considered forms of empirical evidence. Whether they are sufficient to back up the truth claims is something else altogether, something that each person must determine for themselves.

Eh, they kind of rely on bias. Other religions have holy books, lots and lots of members (and rising faster than Christianity in some cases) and have been around a while. So, I wouldnt consider those good evidence.

If it can't be expressed without logical fallacy then I would not call it good evidence.

Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.

Is it fair to say that Christianity was in "full swing" 100 years after Jesus' death? Didn't Christianity gain full strength only after Constantine I legalized it in the 4th century?

I mean in the sense that it was being practiced by people in a spread distance. As opposed to only the apostles.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: deusveritasest on October 05, 2010, 01:05:55 AM
Didn't Christianity gain full strength only after Constantine I legalized it in the 4th century?

No, actually, it was when Theodosius I recognized it as the Imperial religion in 380.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Saint Iaint on October 05, 2010, 02:17:50 AM
Quote from: Ortho_cat
"I just didn't see any reason to believe in a God, nor did I see any compelling evidence that would lead me to believe there was one."
Quote
"The thing that I would find most difficult isn't regaining a belief in some sort of divine force, it is in the bible itself. I've literally gone through dozens of critiques that point to so-called contradictions, scientific innacuracies, and atrocities in the bible. Is there any turning back from this point? How can I regain my faith in a book that I've spent 6 months tearing down during my research?"

Check this out:

Jesus the Christ Is the Fulfillment of the Old Testament... Mathematical Verification Through the Science of Probability That Jesus Has Fulfilled All of The Old Testament Prophecies Concerning His Coming (http://christconquers.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/jesus-the-christ-is-the-fulfillment-of-the-old-testament/)

†IC XC†
†NI KA†

Could you please post a portion of this blog post that you find relevant to this discussion?  Thank you.


2) Links to one's own blog as a means of advertisement, without citing the relevant part of the blog that the author is quoting, are not allowed.  However, alerting users to another blog is acceptable as long as it is relevant to a thread.

OK?... though I would have thought the relevancy to be obvious, given the quotes from Ortho_cat which I led my post with.

I did not post the link "as a means of advertisement"... I thought it was relevant.
 
Ortho_cat was (is) looking for "compelling evidence" that might lead him to believe that there really is a God.

I think that the Old Testament and the New Testament alone (together) go a long way towards providing that "compelling evidence" by demonstrating the clear fulfillment of the prophecies regarding the Christ, Jesus.

Quote
"There are hundreds of fulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament relating to Jesus being Christ (at least 456). What are the chances that one Man (Who was born and died where and when the prophets said He would be) could fulfill them all to become the Saviour of the world?

In the late sixties, a man named Peter Stoner who was Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College in Santa Barbara California, calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Christ. The estimates were worked out by himself and twelve different classes under his supervision representing some 600 university students.

(...) After examining only eight different prophecies, they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 1017 (100,000,000,000,000,000).

(...) But, of course, there are many more than eight prophecies. In another calculation, Stoner used 48 prophecies (even though he could have used 456 or possibly more), and arrived at the still extremely conservative estimate that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is the incredible number of one in 10157.

How large is the number one in 10157? 10157 contains 157 zeros!

Just for fun, I’ll reproduce it here: 1 chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Stoner gives an illustration of this number using electrons. Electrons are very small objects. They’re smaller than atoms. It would take more than 2.5 TIMES 1,000,000,000,000,000 of them, laid side by side, to make one inch. Even if we counted 250 of these electrons each minute, and counted day and night, it would still take 19 million years just to count a line of electrons one-inch long.

With this introduction, let’s go back to our chance of one in 10157. Let’s suppose that we’re taking this number of electrons, marking one, and thoroughly stirring it into the whole mass, then blindfolding a man and letting him try to find the right one. What chance does he have of finding the one that’s marked?

This is the result from considering a mere 48 prophecies. Obviously, the probability that over 450 prophecies would be fulfilled in one man by chance is vastly smaller. Once one goes past one chance in 1050, the probabilities are so small that it is all but impossible to think that they will ever occur.

As Stoner concludes in his book (Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), “Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact, proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world.” (Stoner, op. cit., 112)

God so thoroughly vindicated Jesus Christ that even mathematicians and statisticians, who were without faith, had to acknowledge that it is scientifically impossible to deny that Jesus is the Christ."

Come to think of it... I think this also provides "compelling evidence" that all of these things are not the result of chance but are the fingerprints of the handiwork of God:

Evidence For the Historical Jesus of Nazareth Pt. II - The Star of Bethlehem (http://christconquers.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/evidence-for-the-historical-jesus-of-nazareth-pt-ii-the-star-of-bethlehem/)

†IC XC†
†NI KA†
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 05, 2010, 03:11:23 AM
This probability study was never compelling to me (even when I was a believer) because of the possibility of two alternative scenarios:

a) the old testament prophecies could have been taken out of context to appear to match the new testament gospels.

b) the gospels could have been written to accomodate the old testament prophecies.

Thanks for the input, but I have been over this and most other evidence for Christianity before. I've studied similar types of evidence carefully before I discovered Orthodoxy, because I wanted to make sure Christianity was the right path for me. I think that my conversion back to the faith will be based not on intellectual basis (which I have attempted to do in the past) but on personal experience. If I sincerely want to believe, I have faith that Orthodoxy will provide me with the tools to be able to do so.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Super Apostolic Bros. on October 05, 2010, 03:34:12 AM
If I sincerely want to believe, I have faith that Orthodoxy will provide me with the tools to be able to do so.
That's tautological. "I believe because I believe." If that's so you can believe just about anything and be convinced.

The faith, if it were to have any weight behind it, must be backed up either by evidence or the grace of the sacraments.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 05, 2010, 04:21:20 AM
If I sincerely want to believe, I have faith that Orthodoxy will provide me with the tools to be able to do so.
That's tautological. "I believe because I believe." If that's so you can believe just about anything and be convinced.

The faith, if it were to have any weight behind it, must be backed up either by evidence or the grace of the sacraments.

If I were to say "I believe because I want to believe" would that be the same thing?
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Tzimis on October 05, 2010, 10:17:28 AM
Identifying god is the first process to faith. When I state identifying. I don't mean in a physical sense and by evidence.  Let us say that we had a friend or family member that we loved and held dear. If that member is deceased we can still know that person because of there personality. That personality is identifiable to us. The physical aspects are gone and yet we can know this person even though they may not be with us. There recognition isn't based on physical attributes any longer.  Now the recognition of god is the same relationship but only is reverse. We read and meet people that have a little piece of what we see or read as being god. When we take all of the good qualities of man an piece them together we get a picture of what god is. Gods personality is what draws us to him. God is known through personality and the perfection of that personallity. The question remains. How do we know that this personality is god and not our imagination. The proof of this is in the beginnings of people. If we go back to the infancy of man. Either 6000 or one million year. There is no reason for the first man to know what "good" is. The knowledge of good is given. God had communication with man for the personality of good to exist.  That is the closest evidence of where the existence of god can be seen. The identification of his personality and the impact it left on mankind. Why is man good and not a beast? There is absolutely no reason for it other than learning it from god himself. Good is a behavior that is learned. The proof that god exists is because good people exist.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: theistgal on October 05, 2010, 10:42:35 AM
That "Stoner from the '60's" story just turns me off, man.  Sorry, but I just don't buy it AT   ALL.  And all those other urban legends where some skeptical scientist has that "Eureka!" moment of "proving" Christianity true always seem to fall apart on closer examination.  (A quick search of Snopes.com turns up dozens of 'em.)

"Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe." :)
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Quid on October 05, 2010, 11:44:03 AM
There is no reason for the first man to know what "good" is. The knowledge of good is given. God had communication with man for the personality of good to exist.  That is the closest evidence of where the existence of god can be seen. The identification of his personality and the impact it left on mankind. Why is man good and not a beast? There is absolutely no reason for it other than learning it from god himself. Good is a behavior that is learned. The proof that god exists is because good people exist.

Actually morals are a product of evolution. Those that were moral lived to reproduce, those that didn't killed each other off or didn't function properly to reproduce and pass that trait on. Morality has to exist on a large level for a social population to function.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism#Scientific_viewpoints

Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 05, 2010, 12:50:01 PM
Well, I think it also depends on how far a person pursues a given line of evidence and what aspects they wish to emphasize as well (which may involve bias). For example, many christians like to point out how many copies of the new testament writings exist, the accuracy of the copyist transmissions, the dates of the writings surrounding the events, etc. to bolster the evidence and to give it unique credibility.

I would agree. It gives it direction and point. Its not really going to convince anyone but it does give an area of debate.

Also, going back to the days of my atheism I read that a lot of people say Jesus never existed due to little evidence of him. I brought it up to a Catholic who said "there is a religion based in his name, and in full swing, less than 100 years after his death, is that not evidence?" Which cleared it up for me. It doesn't prove a thing, but it does raise a good point.

That is another lie that is circulated. There is plenty of historical mention from the same time referencing Jesus. When I'm at my other computer tomorrow, I'll try to get you some sources.

Here:
Quote
"Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works--a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.

"He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those who loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day"
(Antiquities, XVIII, III). [Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, born in A.D. 37]

Quote
"derived their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate"
(Annals 15.44) Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 CE)

Quote
On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth--manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. (XVIII.1)
Julius Africanus, History of the World, c. 220 - concerning Thallus (c. 50-75 AD)


Others:
-Letter from Pliny the Younger to Trajan (c. 110)
-Suetonius (Lives of the Caesars, c. 125)
-Lucian (mid-2nd century)
-Galen (c.150; De pulsuum differentiis 2.4; 3.3)
-Celsus (True Discourse, c.170).
-Mara Bar Serapion (pre-200?)
-Talmudic References (written after 300 CE, but some refs probably go back to eyewitnesses)
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: theistgal on October 05, 2010, 12:52:43 PM
One pesky little question: if Flavius Josephus believed all these things about Jesus were true, why didn't he become a Christian?
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 05, 2010, 01:19:21 PM
One pesky little question: if Flavius Josephus believed all these things about Jesus were true, why didn't he become a Christian?

He acknowledges he was a real person with real events (crucified under Pontius Pilatus). That does not necessarily mean he believed everything else.

After all, there were lots of people who saw Jesus' crucifixion. Did all those who watched the crucifixion become Christian?
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: theistgal on October 05, 2010, 01:30:30 PM
Did you know most historians think some of that stuff in Josephus was added later?
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Aindriú on October 05, 2010, 01:36:05 PM
Did you know most historians think some of that stuff in Josephus was added later?

Some historians think that was added later, some think some of the other quotes were manipulated, some think Mark 16:16-20 was added later. Many think they were not. We're talking about religion, of course there will be those that are skeptical.

Do you intend to ask your questions in a condescending tone?
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: pupacios on October 05, 2010, 01:46:42 PM
and an acceptance of some mystery and that not everything can be explained with our current knowledge.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 05, 2010, 09:33:58 PM
and an acceptance of some mystery and that not everything can be explained with our current knowledge.

This is fair. I think this statement can be accepted by someone without necessarily injecting supernatural beliefs, however.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Papist on October 05, 2010, 09:40:21 PM
and an acceptance of some mystery and that not everything can be explained with our current knowledge.

This is fair. I think this statement can be accepted by someone without necessarily injecting supernatural beliefs, however.
Those who think that there is no system outside of our current system are actually claiming infallible omniscience. They claim that all things fit into the known natural order. But to claim that they must know everything there is to know all things. Thus, materialists claim omniscience.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: stavros_388 on October 05, 2010, 11:52:49 PM
First of all, I just want to say that I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts in this thread. I can really appreciate this matter as I, too, as a fairly new Orthodox Christian, having approached the tradition from a history of agnosticism, atheism, and eventually a full-throttle investigation of all religions, struggle with these very same questions. When I have really despaired, one of the things that has brought me back to practicing my faith is the existence of the saints. Somewhere I read that Christ is proved real by His saints. One can accept that even if only from a practical point of view, without mythology or metaphysical speculation. Men and women have, within the context of the Church, become transformed over time into saintly, loving, wise, peaceful, Christ-like people (of course, as Orthodox Christians, we would say that they have achieved some level of theosis and that many of them were miracle-workers).

I also have found Karen Armstrong's writing to be quite helpful. She separates the human capacity for thinking logically from that of thinking "mythically", claiming that both should be able to function for an individual without interfering with one another. She also points out that religion is really a practical enterprise, and that to have faith - that is, to commit wholeheartedly to the spiritual life within a particular religious context - is first a matter of doing, not a matter of thinking, knowing or even firmly believing. One must wholeheartedly and with grave determination engage the entirety of the religion - myths, parables, rituals, liturgies, and ascetic practices - wholeheartedly, in order for it to "work" and to reveal to the individual its mysteries. In other words, religion must be lived, not "thought". The Christian mystics (or hesychasts) show us that discursive thought alone cannot lead one to God, and that, eventually, we have to break through the constant static of our reasoning minds and become still (hesychia).

But I struggle with over-thinking all the time, and have been very unstable in my orientation because of it. And I am also very often guilty of the "egocentric sensualism" that someone else helpfully wrote of earlier in this thread... thanks for that post!
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: ialmisry on October 06, 2010, 12:06:44 AM
One pesky little question: if Flavius Josephus believed all these things about Jesus were true, why didn't he become a Christian?
Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, 26 "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' 31 Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. 33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple

Josephus Problem
The problem is named after Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian living in the 1st century. According to Josephus' account of the siege of Yodfat, he and his 40 comrade soldiers were trapped in a cave, the exit of which is blocked by Romans. They chose suicide over capture and decided that they would form a circle and start killing themselves using a step of three. Josephus states that by luck or maybe by the hand of God (modern scholars point out that Josephus was a well educated scholar and predicted the outcome), he and another man remained the last and gave up to the Romans.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_problem
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 06, 2010, 01:38:04 AM
and an acceptance of some mystery and that not everything can be explained with our current knowledge.

This is fair. I think this statement can be accepted by someone without necessarily injecting supernatural beliefs, however.
Those who think that there is no system outside of our current system are actually claiming infallible omniscience. They claim that all things fit into the known natural order. But to claim that they must know everything there is to know all things. Thus, materialists claim omniscience.


Or they can choose to remain unconvinced of supernatural claims until sufficient evidence presents itself. Again, "sufficient evidence" here will vary according to each person. Here the naturalist is not making any positive  assertion, they are simply rejecting the theist's claim based on a lack of substantive evidence.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Ortho_cat on October 06, 2010, 01:42:22 AM
First of all, I just want to say that I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts in this thread. I can really appreciate this matter as I, too, as a fairly new Orthodox Christian, having approached the tradition from a history of agnosticism, atheism, and eventually a full-throttle investigation of all religions, struggle with these very same questions. When I have really despaired, one of the things that has brought me back to practicing my faith is the existence of the saints. Somewhere I read that Christ is proved real by His saints. One can accept that even if only from a practical point of view, without mythology or metaphysical speculation. Men and women have, within the context of the Church, become transformed over time into saintly, loving, wise, peaceful, Christ-like people (of course, as Orthodox Christians, we would say that they have achieved some level of theosis and that many of them were miracle-workers).

I also have found Karen Armstrong's writing to be quite helpful. She separates the human capacity for thinking logically from that of thinking "mythically", claiming that both should be able to function for an individual without interfering with one another. She also points out that religion is really a practical enterprise, and that to have faith - that is, to commit wholeheartedly to the spiritual life within a particular religious context - is first a matter of doing, not a matter of thinking, knowing or even firmly believing. One must wholeheartedly and with grave determination engage the entirety of the religion - myths, parables, rituals, liturgies, and ascetic practices - wholeheartedly, in order for it to "work" and to reveal to the individual its mysteries. In other words, religion must be lived, not "thought". The Christian mystics (or hesychasts) show us that discursive thought alone cannot lead one to God, and that, eventually, we have to break through the constant static of our reasoning minds and become still (hesychia).

But I struggle with over-thinking all the time, and have been very unstable in my orientation because of it. And I am also very often guilty of the "egocentric sensualism" that someone else helpfully wrote of earlier in this thread... thanks for that post!

Excellent and very helpful post! Welcome to the forum!
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: Taylor on October 06, 2010, 03:15:59 AM
I converted from atheism to Orthodoxy, with some other steps along my path.  I grew up in a nominally-Christian (Baptist) family and abandoned Christianity at an earlier age than I can remember.  I stayed in this undefined state for a good long while before developing a budding interest in Buddhism and Taoism (initially just out of an interest in practical meditation).  After a few years of searching through various East-Asian religious and philosophical idea systems I got tired of them due to several factors. 

I became a staunch atheist and began reading Friedrich Nietzsche, who I came to believe was the greatest genius the world has ever seen (I think I ended up reading every work he wrote, as well as dozens of works about him, and wanted for a while to be a Nietzsche-scholar).  I specifically remember walking around in the countryside one day and joyously screaming aloud "There is no God".  It felt very liberating for some reason, like a great pressure or burden that I had not even noticed had been lifted.  I began to hate everyone and considered every person I met to be scum, as this is essentially what Nietzsche said the majority of people were.  I even read Anton LaVey's "The Satanic Bible", considering it to be the ultimate fulfillment of Nietzsche's philosophy.

But then an act of kindness by a couple of classmates in college caused me to change my views of humanity.  I decided to look into "religion" again but still refused to consider Christianity.  I got really deep into Theravada Buddhism again during a summer and developed a regular and rigorous meditation practice.  I became interested in monasticism, and seriously considered becoming a Buddhist monk.  Then the thought hit me, "hey, aren't there Christians who live monastic lives too?"  I figured that even if I was just going to study monasticism as an interesting social dynamic from a scholarly perspective, I should know where Christian monasticism was coming from.  I felt a sudden urge one day to read the Gospels, an impulse that until then I considered the height of stupidity.  So I picked up the Bible and the first passage I came to was John 4:14:

but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

I realized that I had been thirsting this whole time, going from philosophy to philosophy, but nothing had ever quenched that thirst.  So I decided to try Christianity.  I was heavily influenced at this early time by Roman Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft, as well as other Christian apologists.  I was a very gradual process, and at first entirely intellectual.  It was simply stupendous to find that there were some people out there intelligently defending the faith (even if some of them were a bit misguided).  I was very frustrated, however, at how many different groups there were out there who claimed to be Christian but who had some very different beliefs, ideas, and practices.  I did not know where to belong.  At this time I still considered prayer to be silly, to be honest, and I did not even attempt it. The first time I did pray, though, was at a time of agonizing frustration over finding true Christianity, and I asked that God lead me to the Christian Church.  Only a few days after, I discovered the Orthodox Church.

I am now a catechumen.  I have spent my time since converting doing intensive study of Christian history and the Church Fathers, but most importantly I am actually praying, going to Church services, and altering my ways to follow Christ.  I feel that by doing these things I am filling some space that had always been empty before. I say with all sincerity that only a year and a half ago if someone told me that I would become a Christian I would have told them that they were crazy. Mine was not a sudden "aha" conversion but was a very gradual and often painful one.  I still go through times of doubt.  I often wonder "why Christianity?  Why not Buddhism or Vedanta something?", and sometimes these questions consume me, but I always come out of these periods much more strong in my faith than I was before. I probably could not label one factor or event as the reason I converted, but my conversion to Orthodoxy has seemed to be the fulfillment of everything that came before in my life, and for the first time I feel at home.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: jnorm888 on October 06, 2010, 03:32:17 AM
Thanks all for the replies and prayers.

One thing that I seem to keep coming back to in my mind is that the human brain wants religion. It instinctively wants to believe in an afterlife. It wants to believe that the universe isn't ultimately destined for an eventual heat death. The idea that there is no grand purpose for the universe seems repulsive. The idea that we are ultimately nothing but a manifestation of our brain's conciousness, which by itself is nothing but a series of complex chemical reactions seems incomprehensible.

Are these instinctive desires simply a malfunction or side-effect of our brains higher cognitive functions? Perhaps, but it is certainly much more palatable to think that this need for religion is purposeful and not just an accident of nature.

We are wired for not only sex, and to be social, but we are also wired to be religious. This is probably why atheistic communist countries will always fail to be truly communist.

This is probably why the French Revolution failed as well. They started to literally worship liberty and reason.

We will always be religious, there is no way in getting around it. Atheists will eventually only form another religion......it's inevitable.

Atheist want to rewrite our programming, but no matter how hard they try, they will eventually fall prey to it.


Like you I believe our being wired this way is purposeful. It is not an accident. And so instead of trying to destroy it, we need to simply redirect it.

Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: stavros_388 on October 06, 2010, 08:56:06 AM
I still go through times of doubt.  I often wonder "why Christianity?  Why not Buddhism or Vedanta something?", and sometimes these questions consume me, but I always come out of these periods much more strong in my faith than I was before. I probably could not label one factor or event as the reason I converted, but my conversion to Orthodoxy has seemed to be the fulfillment of everything that came before in my life, and for the first time I feel at home.

Hi Taylor,

I, too, was a huge fan of Nietzsche for a long time, and used to carry "Thus Spake Zarathustra" around like a bible in my high-school years. Your approach to Christianity sounds very similar to my own, as I traversed to Orthodoxy from an interest and some participation in Buddhism, Vedanta, etc. Have you ever read anything by James S.Cutsinger? He is a professor of religion in America, and is both a perennialist (as in the Perennial Philosophy) and an Orthodox Christian. He is a brilliant writer and thinker, and has a keen interest also in Vedanta, Sufism, Buddhism, etc. His webpage is here: http://www.cutsinger.net/. I'd also like to recommend the book "Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works", if you haven't encountered it already. While he is a controversial figure to some, you'd certainly find some common ground with him, his search for truth, and his story of conversion.

Thanks you for sharing your story.
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: stavros_388 on October 06, 2010, 09:00:02 AM
But I struggle with over-thinking all the time, and have been very unstable in my orientation because of it. And I am also very often guilty of the "egocentric sensualism" that someone else helpfully wrote of earlier in this thread... thanks for that post!

Excellent and very helpful post! Welcome to the forum!

Thanks for that, Ortho_cat!
Title: Re: Atheism to Orthodoxy
Post by: pupacios on October 06, 2010, 02:16:19 PM
an observation I have made of people that have converted to Eastern Orthodox is that most of them(us) seem to have been through many iterations before concluding with Orthodoxy and that most of their (our) former steps have been dabbles and have never had the finality (at the start of that dabble) that people have with Orthodoxy. Obviously something that you might not feel if born into an Orthodox family but may give some comfort to those that lapse or doubt - i.e. the people that have searched have found something final in Orthodoxy - this must mean something! well it does feel that way t me  :)