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Author Topic: So I don't believe in God...  (Read 12582 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 17, 2011, 09:16:48 PM »

Please tell me why you believe He (or She) is actually there.

If possible, it would be nice to have fairly concise replies.
Thank you guys.
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 09:20:44 PM »

How can I believe you are there?
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 09:28:15 PM »

Please tell me why you believe He (or She) is actually there.

If possible, it would be nice to have fairly concise replies.
Thank you guys.

I believe God exists because of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, and the great historical evidence for it.
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 09:34:27 PM »

Please tell me why you believe He (or She) is actually there.

If possible, it would be nice to have fairly concise replies.
Thank you guys.

I added a tag (atheism) to the bottom of this thread, and added the same tag to several recent discussions we've had on the matter (it's been rather heavily discussed as of late, it seems), so feel free to look through the threads.

Oh, and welcome to the forum.
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 09:55:24 PM »

How can I believe you are there?

I don't think he is there.   
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 10:00:41 PM »

GIC, thanks for the tag.  I should note that I don't necessarily consider myself an Atheist nor do I deny the existence of God... I just haven't found anything that has convinced me to believe (at least not yet).

Quote
I believe God exists because of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, and the great historical evidence for it.

So in short, you believe in God because there is great historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I know the Bible describes this resurrection, but where else can I find this evidence?  I have been hesitant to believe the Adam & Eve story, and thus the significance of Jesus's resurrection, because of the historical evidence of human evolution.
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2011, 10:21:41 AM »

GIC, thanks for the tag.  I should note that I don't necessarily consider myself an Atheist nor do I deny the existence of God... I just haven't found anything that has convinced me to believe (at least not yet).

Quote
I believe God exists because of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, and the great historical evidence for it.

So in short, you believe in God because there is great historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I know the Bible describes this resurrection, but where else can I find this evidence?  I have been hesitant to believe the Adam & Eve story, and thus the significance of Jesus's resurrection, because of the historical evidence of human evolution.

It is interesting that one witness is admissable in court, but when speaking to historical evidence of Christ's resurrection, the four independent testimonies canonized in Scripture aren't considered admissible. Not to mention the thousands of others who bore witness, whose testimony has passed through the ages. Not to mention others who have testified to miraculous appearances of Christ, or His Mother, even those who were not Christians...at least not at that time. Just an interesting observation.

Jesus of Nazareth was surely an historical figure. The Jewish historian Josephus mentions him, as does the Roman historian Tacitus and several others make mention of a "Christ" and his "Christians." Usually speaking of the persecutions thereof. Of course, just a few centuries later, Christianity becomes the religion of the Empire, and so obscure historical references disappear as the majority of the Empire is Christianized.

What's more are the miracles still today associated with the events of Christ's life and those who follow Him. Incorrupt bodies of saints that have laid in repose for centuries, healing given to those who show devotion for Christ and His saints, salvation from seige and natural disaster, the annual miracles that occur on Mt. Tabor, in the Jordan River, in the tomb of Christ, etc.

Also, who told you that science and faith are at odds, or that one would even have to pick sides in any possible argument? Render unto Caesar (or Darwin, as the case may be) what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's. If you seek to comprehend all mysteries and acquire all knowledge...you will never be satisifed.
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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2011, 10:50:23 AM »

Zeus12,

I think Benjamin the Red just about summed it up. So maybe just think about what he's saying carefully, research any points that are necessary, and you'll be on your way...  police
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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2011, 11:04:46 AM »

I think it's interesting that the twelve Apostles (who saw Jesus), willingly died in his name, a historically verifiable fact. Would you willingly die for something you knew was false?
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« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2011, 11:06:09 AM »

I just haven't found anything that has convinced me to believe (at least not yet).
Aren't "being convinced by evidence" and "believing" two contradictory things?


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« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2011, 11:09:45 AM »

I think it's interesting that the twelve Apostles (who saw Jesus), willingly died in his name, a historically verifiable fact. Would you willingly die for something you knew was false?

Yes, I would. Also, it's possible that they believed something to be true, without it actually being true.
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« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2011, 11:31:25 AM »

"If possible, it would be nice to have fairly concise replies.
Thank you guys."

Well, that request certainly sounds sincere. What are you doing, researching a paper for Sociology 101? Go away.
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2011, 11:36:48 AM »

I think it's interesting that the twelve Apostles (who saw Jesus), willingly died in his name, a historically verifiable fact. Would you willingly die for something you knew was false?

Yes, I would. Also, it's possible that they believed something to be true, without it actually being true.

You would? Interesting.
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2011, 12:05:37 PM »

I realize sometimes we get insincere people coming here just trying to argue about God's existence but it feels to me that too many people are jumping on this new poster here and that may be a bit unfounded at the moment. Again I realize we've got a long history of people coming here to just to bash Christianity, and perhaps this person is the same however I say let's try and give him a bit of a break, just for a short time and see what pans out. If he is sincere going the Lee Strobel route may or may not be the best method of discussion. Again, it might be, I don't know. I understand that this feels like the same old same old, but it may not be either.

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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2011, 12:13:59 PM »

Please tell me why you believe He (or She) is actually there.

If possible, it would be nice to have fairly concise replies.
Thank you guys.

Welcome to the forum!

If you want concise replies, you're probably barking up the wrong tree. I mean, aren't Orthodoxy and "concise" replies oxymorons? lol!

Some Christians might be able to give very brief reasons, but I am not one of them. Orthodoxy isn't quite as wrapped up in "belief" as much as other Christian traditions are. Yes it is important, but it is not the end all be all of what it means to be a Christian. IMO there are a lot of grey areas in the question you're asking. What do you mean by "God"? What do you mean by "believe"? It sounds like I'm dodging the question but to me these are important aspects to the question at hand. How does doubt come into play? Can one still be Orthodox and doubt? I don't think there are concise answers to the "big questions" of life. If it was that easy to answer I doubt you'd be asking the question to begin with. What does it mean to believe in God? Does belief do any good if you're not going to live it? etc.

We also have a long, and recent history of people claiming to be asking sincere questions, only to find out they have ulterior motives at play. So most of us, even the atheists here, are going to be on guard from people just popping in asking a question like this out of the blue. So forgive me for being a little skeptical of your intentions, however if you're sincere, you are welcome to stay and learn what we believe, even if in the end you choose not to believe it yourself.

NP
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« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2011, 12:16:05 PM »

I just haven't found anything that has convinced me to believe (at least not yet).
Aren't "being convinced by evidence" and "believing" two contradictory things?




Excellent point. If one can be argued into Christianity by the evidence, then where the heck does faith come in? Or is the reverse true, we first have faith, then "believe" there is evidence to support our faith?

Good point, but I'm not sure my brain is up to the task of such a philosophical discussion this week, er maybe this month even...lol!

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« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2011, 12:16:20 PM »

I realize sometimes we get insincere people coming here just trying to argue about God's existence but it feels to me that too many people are jumping on this new poster here and that may be a bit unfounded at the moment. Again I realize we've got a long history of people coming here to just to bash Christianity, and perhaps this person is the same however I say let's try and give him a bit of a break, just for a short time and see what pans out. If he is sincere going the Lee Strobel route may or may not be the best method of discussion. Again, it might be, I don't know. I understand that this feels like the same old same old, but it may not be either.

NP

I think it's just that this issue has been discussed so much recently, people come here already in polemics mode. That's why I went to the trouble of tagging the threads on the issue for him, I'd be really surprised if this thread turned into a productive discussion (few on this subject ever do, everyone's just too defensive).
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« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2011, 12:37:10 PM »

I think it's interesting that the twelve Apostles (who saw Jesus), willingly died in his name, a historically verifiable fact. Would you willingly die for something you knew was false?

I'd actually use the 70 as an example, too; of the 12, 10 died martyr's deaths, 1 died of old age, 1 committed suicide.  If we count Matthias instead of Judas, then we're at 11 of 12.  However, IIRC, most or all of the 70 died martyr's deaths.
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« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2011, 12:45:30 PM »

To paraphrase a lot of what the late great skeptic Martin Gardner said, there is simply never going to be enough evidence on either side of the debate to convince everyone, so you just have to look at what's there and make your own decision.  And whichever choice you make, try to respect those on the other side of the chasm who chose otherwise.
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« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2011, 12:46:27 PM »

GIC, thanks for the tag.  I should note that I don't necessarily consider myself an Atheist nor do I deny the existence of God... I just haven't found anything that has convinced me to believe (at least not yet).

Quote
I believe God exists because of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, and the great historical evidence for it.

So in short, you believe in God because there is great historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I know the Bible describes this resurrection, but where else can I find this evidence?  I have been hesitant to believe the Adam & Eve story, and thus the significance of Jesus's resurrection, because of the historical evidence of human evolution.

How does historical evidence of human evolution automatically mean that Christianity isn't true? Can't both be true?
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« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2011, 12:58:02 PM »

To paraphrase a lot of what the late great skeptic Martin Gardner said, there is simply never going to be enough evidence on either side of the debate to convince everyone, so you just have to look at what's there and make your own decision.  And whichever choice you make, try to respect those on the other side of the chasm who chose otherwise.

Especially when the evidence that is presented is rejected out of hand. Which is my experience with these types of discussions.
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« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2011, 02:55:00 PM »

I think it's interesting that the twelve Apostles (who saw Jesus), willingly died in his name, a historically verifiable fact. Would you willingly die for something you knew was false?

Yes, I would. Also, it's possible that they believed something to be true, without it actually being true.

You would? Interesting.

Well, let me clarify, there would have to be something much more important at stake. For example, I'd die for a lie if I thought it would save (immediately or eventually) a lot of people's lives, or perhaps just a few lives if they were ones special to me (e.g. my daughters). Now admittedly, given what we know about Chrisitanity, I think fitting that approach into the Christian situation would be difficult... but not necessarily impossible. I guess it would depend on who was lying, what they were lying about, how much was at stake, etc. Now, having said that, I have to admit that I'm sort of playing devil's advocate here. Of the various evidences people use for Christianity, this one about early believers dying for Christianity is pretty high up there for me. For whatever reason, it's one of the few evidences that really resonates with me.
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« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2011, 05:30:18 PM »

I realize sometimes we get insincere people coming here just trying to argue about God's existence but it feels to me that too many people are jumping on this new poster here and that may be a bit unfounded at the moment. Again I realize we've got a long history of people coming here to just to bash Christianity, and perhaps this person is the same however I say let's try and give him a bit of a break, just for a short time and see what pans out. If he is sincere going the Lee Strobel route may or may not be the best method of discussion. Again, it might be, I don't know. I understand that this feels like the same old same old, but it may not be either.

NP

I think it's just that this issue has been discussed so much recently, people come here already in polemics mode. That's why I went to the trouble of tagging the threads on the issue for him, I'd be really surprised if this thread turned into a productive discussion (few on this subject ever do, everyone's just too defensive).

No, I think your right. For some reason I always remain optimistic about topics I personally find fascinating. Sum it to selfish desire for interesting dialogue...Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2011, 05:46:47 PM »

Well, let me clarify, there would have to be something much more important at stake. For example, I'd die for a lie if I thought it would save (immediately or eventually) a lot of people's lives, or perhaps just a few lives if they were ones special to me (e.g. my daughters). Now admittedly, given what we know about Chrisitanity, I think fitting that approach into the Christian situation would be difficult... but not necessarily impossible. I guess it would depend on who was lying, what they were lying about, how much was at stake, etc. Now, having said that, I have to admit that I'm sort of playing devil's advocate here. Of the various evidences people use for Christianity, this one about early believers dying for Christianity is pretty high up there for me. For whatever reason, it's one of the few evidences that really resonates with me.

I agree that there are a few reasons why someone may be willing to die for a lie, but getting 10 Apostles (or 11), plus 70 other apostles, to die for a lie would be quite a stretch, especially considering that their deaths were not for the protection of someone else (as in your example, which would likely be the only reason I'd be willing to die for a lie).
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« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2011, 05:52:00 PM »

Just based on my own experience, take it for FWIW, no one has ever been argued into a belief in God (or anything else, for that matter.) As long as I have a sock drawer to organize, I will eschew discussions with folks who start out by telling me they don't believe in God or in the Bible as evidence, in favor of a more productive activity.
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« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2011, 05:57:19 PM »

GIC, thanks for the tag.  I should note that I don't necessarily consider myself an Atheist nor do I deny the existence of God... I just haven't found anything that has convinced me to believe (at least not yet).

Quote
I believe God exists because of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, and the great historical evidence for it.

So in short, you believe in God because there is great historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I know the Bible describes this resurrection, but where else can I find this evidence?  I have been hesitant to believe the Adam & Eve story, and thus the significance of Jesus's resurrection, because of the historical evidence of human evolution.

To answer your first question: N.T. Wright has written a great book called The Resurrection of the Son of God. That's probably one of the best easy resources out there to find if you're into reading books. In the book, Wright covers as many bases that he can in order to show the historical context and argument for the resurrection of Jesus. The length (over 800 pages) is well worth it if you're absolutely serious about finding out if Christianity is true. Also, I would recommend browsing through articles on Tektonics and Christian Think Tank.

If Genesis and Young Earth Creationism is giving you a hard time, you might be surprised to find that there are many intelligent Christians who believe that evolution is true. The head of the Human Genome Project, Francis S. Collins, is a Christian and certainly believes in it. The question comes down to how the first couple of chapters of Genesis are supposed to be interpreted. I've heard it argued that they are written in poetic form and therefore are not literal. Genesis and the four gospels were written over 1,000 years apart and cover quite different aspects of Christian belief. My advice is to focus on the main issue: whether Christianity itself is true. When looking at a belief system there is almost always something that it hinges on (in Islam the hingepoint would be whether or not Mohammad was a true prophet). For Christianity, the hingepoint is the resurrection itself. If Jesus rose bodily from the dead, then Christianity is absolutely true and all other worldviews are false.

Happy searching, friend. And welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2011, 06:21:23 PM »

I agree that there are a few reasons why someone may be willing to die for a lie, but getting 10 Apostles (or 11), plus 70 other apostles, to die for a lie would be quite a stretch, especially considering that their deaths were not for the protection of someone else (as in your example, which would likely be the only reason I'd be willing to die for a lie).

I think myth can be a powerful thing, especially for people of that age. We moderns tend to look at myths with condescension, but the ancients probably were more sophisticated in that they would look for important truths embedded in the tales. Would they have died for such truth-full myths? I don't know. I doubt it. I only keep in mind as a possibility... much like the delusion hypothesis, which I don't consider likely, but I keep in mind.
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« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2011, 07:02:23 PM »

I think it's interesting that the twelve Apostles (who saw Jesus), willingly died in his name, a historically verifiable fact. Would you willingly die for something you knew was false?

I think it is interesting as well, but couldn't someone also argue that 39 Heaven's Gate cult members willingly killed themselves in order to 'catch a ride' on the Hale-Bopp comet?  They didn't believe that what they died for was false either.

To the OP: I firmly believe in God, but I'm not sure that I can explain my reasoning or the occurrences that led me to this belief in a concise forum posting.
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« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2011, 11:45:10 PM »

I agree that there are a few reasons why someone may be willing to die for a lie, but getting 10 Apostles (or 11), plus 70 other apostles, to die for a lie would be quite a stretch, especially considering that their deaths were not for the protection of someone else (as in your example, which would likely be the only reason I'd be willing to die for a lie).

I think myth can be a powerful thing, especially for people of that age. We moderns tend to look at myths with condescension, but the ancients probably were more sophisticated in that they would look for important truths embedded in the tales. Would they have died for such truth-full myths? I don't know. I doubt it. I only keep in mind as a possibility... much like the delusion hypothesis, which I don't consider likely, but I keep in mind.

The possibility is small though, considering that so many witnesses of the Resurrection died or suffered on account of it, not just followers of the witnesses (which I would consider at this point possibly a "myth" or "rumor" not first-hand witnesses), but the witnesses themselves, making an example of bravery for more Christians to explode in increase.
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« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2011, 11:46:06 PM »

Quote
I think it is interesting as well, but couldn't someone also argue that 39 Heaven's Gate cult members willingly killed themselves in order to 'catch a ride' on the Hale-Bopp comet?  They didn't believe that what they died for was false either.

The disciples of Jesus were in a completely different situation. They preached that Jesus died a shameful death and rose again from the grave. Because of their persecutions they had literally nothing material to gain. They also did nearly every wrong thing in the book at the time to try and start a new religion (using women as witnesses, for example). Also, they didn't try to kill themselves like the Heaven's Gates members. The Heavens Gates cult pretty much ended when they committed mass suicide. Christianity, if it was false, would have never lasted out of the 1st Century and certainly not the 2nd.
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« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2011, 02:49:05 AM »

I just haven't found anything that has convinced me to believe (at least not yet).
Aren't "being convinced by evidence" and "believing" two contradictory things?




I wouldn't go so far as to say they are contradictory, but certainly they aren't the same.
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« Reply #31 on: January 19, 2011, 02:53:08 AM »


If you want concise replies, you're probably barking up the wrong tree. I mean, aren't Orthodoxy and "concise" replies oxymorons? lol!


I would go one step further and say that Orthodoxy and concision are oxymorons... Wink
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« Reply #32 on: January 19, 2011, 03:03:19 AM »

Truth is not limited to factual accuracy.
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« Reply #33 on: January 19, 2011, 04:02:33 AM »

I think it is interesting as well, but couldn't someone also argue that 39 Heaven's Gate cult members willingly killed themselves in order to 'catch a ride' on the Hale-Bopp comet?  They didn't believe that what they died for was false either.

Problem is that there was no verification that a UFO would be on that comet. They could have easily looked at a telescope.

No the Resurrection of Christ is completley different all together. They witnessed the Risen Christ, alive again rather than believing something that was to come.
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« Reply #34 on: January 19, 2011, 04:32:21 AM »

I think it is interesting as well, but couldn't someone also argue that 39 Heaven's Gate cult members willingly killed themselves in order to 'catch a ride' on the Hale-Bopp comet?  They didn't believe that what they died for was false either.

Problem is that there was no verification that a UFO would be on that comet. They could have easily looked at a telescope.

No the Resurrection of Christ is completley different all together. They witnessed the Risen Christ, alive again rather than believing something that was to come.

The Apostles certainly seem to say something like this, i.e., that they bear witness to something which they experienced directly (that is, the Person of Christ.) However, the Apostle John goes on to say that the reason they are telling us is so that we too may experience Him. Important to note is that the word "fellowship" in the original is "Koinonia" ("Communion"):
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." (1John 1:1-3)
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« Reply #35 on: January 19, 2011, 05:03:34 AM »

I think it is interesting as well, but couldn't someone also argue that 39 Heaven's Gate cult members willingly killed themselves in order to 'catch a ride' on the Hale-Bopp comet?  They didn't believe that what they died for was false either.

Problem is that there was no verification that a UFO would be on that comet. They could have easily looked at a telescope.

No the Resurrection of Christ is completley different all together. They witnessed the Risen Christ, alive again rather than believing something that was to come.

The Apostles certainly seem to say something like this, i.e., that they bear witness to something which they experienced directly (that is, the Person of Christ.) However, the Apostle John goes on to say that the reason they are telling us is so that we too may experience Him. Important to note is that the word "fellowship" in the original is "Koinonia" ("Communion"):
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." (1John 1:1-3)

Thank you for that reminder.  Many of us spend too much time on trying to prove it happened sometimes on the expense of experiencing it.
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« Reply #36 on: January 19, 2011, 03:11:52 PM »

Okay... Thanks for all the good replies.  I should have realized that this forum probably gets a ton of people who just bash Christianity, and I just want to say that's not what I'm here for.  I respect Christianity (I also have a lot of family who are devout Christians/Catholics) and my intention here is not to convince you guys I'm right, but instead be open to and consider your opinion on why God exists.  Sometimes it's good consider the stuff you know you'll disagree with at first.

With what I said about concise replies... I just didn't want to have to read a 3 paragraph comment on some tangent since we all know it can easily happen on any forum.  If it's on topic, feel free to write as much as you want.

Also, with the whole convinced by evidence and believing thing:  What I mean is that from my current perspective, I just don't see the Christian faith (and God in general) as a reasonable explanation for why we are here.  This is because the whole Big Bang theory—from the beginning to how Earth was formed—makes more sense to me than "The Creation" listed in Genesis.  I can't say that I know my perspective is true, I don't think any of us can know; but it's possible to persuade and convince someone of something so they believe it to be true.  I'm just looking for reasons to believe in God and believe that Christianity is a credible religion.
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« Reply #37 on: January 19, 2011, 06:00:00 PM »

This is because the whole Big Bang theory—from the beginning to how Earth was formed—makes more sense to me than "The Creation" listed in Genesis.

Is this your big hang-up about Christianity? You mention it an awful lot. Last I checked, Young Earth, Seven-Day Creationism is not an ecumenical dogma of the Orthodox Church. If it is...I'm anathema!  police
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« Reply #38 on: January 19, 2011, 06:13:19 PM »

When I am having problems believing in God, I ask myself if there is some other way I would want to live my life.

 If there is no God and the Universe is random it does not matter how I live. I could freely become a user of people, and perhaps a drunk and a thief, it would not matter. On the last beat of my heart I will disappear into the darkness.

 Even if there is no God and the universe is a blank, I still choose to serve God and live like a Christian. I love the words of Jesus, his Church, and the wonderful people that “chance” has placed in my life. So even if the universe is just a black hole and there is no eternal life, I choose to follow Jesus. If he dropped into a black hole in the universe when he died, then I will be happy to know that when I die I am following him into the nothingness.

Belief in God is a choice. Start with the premise that he exists and ask Him to revel himself to you.  God is real and he loves us he will show you the way
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« Reply #39 on: January 19, 2011, 07:22:00 PM »

Orthodox Christianity need not contradict scientific truths and understandings of the world.  The belief in God is simply that God was the ultimate Creator and Cause of all things.  Genesis is just a story that used the understanding of the culture at the time to lead to the understanding of this God as the Creator of all things, not to be taken as a literal understanding of creation.  That doesn't mean you'll not find people who do take them literally, but not all Orthodox do.
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« Reply #40 on: January 19, 2011, 08:54:52 PM »

Okay... Thanks for all the good replies.  I should have realized that this forum probably gets a ton of people who just bash Christianity, and I just want to say that's not what I'm here for.  I respect Christianity (I also have a lot of family who are devout Christians/Catholics) and my intention here is not to convince you guys I'm right, but instead be open to and consider your opinion on why God exists.  Sometimes it's good consider the stuff you know you'll disagree with at first.

With what I said about concise replies... I just didn't want to have to read a 3 paragraph comment on some tangent since we all know it can easily happen on any forum.  If it's on topic, feel free to write as much as you want.

Also, with the whole convinced by evidence and believing thing:  What I mean is that from my current perspective, I just don't see the Christian faith (and God in general) as a reasonable explanation for why we are here.  This is because the whole Big Bang theory—from the beginning to how Earth was formed—makes more sense to me than "The Creation" listed in Genesis.  I can't say that I know my perspective is true, I don't think any of us can know; but it's possible to persuade and convince someone of something so they believe it to be true.  I'm just looking for reasons to believe in God and believe that Christianity is a credible religion.

I believe that in order to have a world where true love was possible, God had to allow creation to make itself to a large extent.  Otherwise, it would end up being some sort of divine puppet show or "simulation" in the mind of God.  So I am not shocked in the least when we find a naturalistic explanation for "the way things are."  In fact, it's to be expected. 

You won't find many amongst us Orthodox who believe in God for explanatory purposes.  That's a logical fallacy called God-of-the-gaps and it is rightly scoffed at.

Instead, everything is summed up in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  God had to "break through" to us, as it were, and the fullest expression of this breakthrough is found in Jesus.  Direct all your attention to him, start with history if you have to, familiarize yourself with the available sources, read, read, read and keep moving forward.

If one genuinely wants to find God though, this will not be enough.  I offer here these extremely helpful and insightful points by Fr. Thomas Hopko.  He calls them his "10 Essential Conditions For Coming To Know God's Truth."

1.  The belief that the truth of things can be known, and the desire to know the truth and to do it, wherever it leads, is most essential. Indeed it is everything. When people have this desire and seek truth in order to do it, and are ready to do it whatever it takes to find it, know it and do it, God promises that they will find, and understand and live. In a sense, this desire and seeking is all that is necessary.

2.  The seeking person must read the New Testament through, slowly and without judgment of details, at least two or three times, taking the time needed to do this. They should let go of what is not clear, and focus on what they can understand, what is clear to them. It would also be helpful to read a Psalm or two everyday.

3.  The person must pray, as they can. If they claim to be Christian, at least somehow, they should say the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers of the Church tradition, and attend Liturgical services, without serving or singing or reading. If they are not Christians, or are unsure, they must at least pray, “to whom it may concern,” saying something like, “if you are there, teach me, lead me, guide me…”

4.  The person must eat good foods in moderation. A couple of days a week (like Wed and Fri) the person should fast; eating much less than usual. During this search the person should abstain from all alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Except a minimal amount of wine with meals. If overeating or drinking, smoking or drug-taking is a problem, the seeker must get formal help, like, for example, a 12 step program.

5.  The person should abstain from all sexual activity unless they are married and expressing love (and not just having sex). There should be no TV or Internet porn. If sex is an addictive problem, they must take steps to get formal help.

6.  The person should sit alone and still in silence for at least a half hour each day. They should watch their thoughts, but not engage them. They should say a very short prayer while doing them, to avoid engaging their thoughts.

7.  The person should give at least a couple of hours a week to charitable work, and should give away some of their money (if they can) in a sacrificial way. They should do this, as far as possible, without anyone knowing what they are doing.

8.  The person should open their life fully to at least one other trustworthy person, telling absolutely everything, without editing or hiding anything: their thoughts, dreams, temptations, actions, sins, fears, anxieties, etc.

9.  The person must regularly talk with someone trustworthy specifically about their family of origin: their family history going back as far as possible, their childhood, relations with their parents and grandparents and siblings, their spiritual and religious history, their sexual history, education, etc.

10.  The person must find a community of friends with whom to struggle to know the truth and to find life. The search cannot be done alone. We need each other.

Welcome to the boards!
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« Reply #41 on: January 20, 2011, 05:07:31 PM »

Zeus, you nred to stop thinking about this as an "either-or" question. The Universe could well have started as a Big Bang, and Evolution is likely the origin of the various species, but this doesn't preclude the possibility that God is behind them. In other words, even if we had conclusive proof that the Universe began with the Big Bang, that wouldn't mean that God doesn't exist. I grew up an Orthodox Christian, and studies Evolution in High School, and just accepted it ( and still do), but I never questioned the existence of God as a result. I simply believed that God created us, and science was telling me how He'd done it.
I'm a psychologist, not a physicist, so I don't know the physics behind the Big Bang. Personally I can't understand how nothing can suddenly and for no reason explode into everything and then bits of everything rearrange themselves for no reason into self replicating bits which evolved into us. But just because I don't understand it doesn't mean I reject it as a possibility. But no matter how the Universe came to be, I believe God was behind it.
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« Reply #42 on: January 20, 2011, 05:22:00 PM »

Hey Sleeper, sorry if this is the dumbest question you'll ever hear but why are steps 8-10 so important?
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« Reply #43 on: January 20, 2011, 06:18:01 PM »

Hey Sleeper, sorry if this is the dumbest question you'll ever hear but why are steps 8-10 so important?

Not a dumb question!  And I can only venture a guess myself, since Fr. Hopko put them forth.  But I'd say it's integral to have someone that you can "bare all" to, if only for the fact that it actually makes you take an honest look at yourself.  It's so easy to hind behind ourselves in safety, never really dealing with the deep issues we might be carrying around; some of which might be the very things things hindering our progress, you know?  That's not to say someone can't or won't find God without this step, but how does one even really realize their deep need for God if they've not even stopped to consider it, if they believe everything is fine, if they've never allowed someone to truly see them for who they are?

This is closely related to step nine.  We are not born in a vacuum, nor do we exist in one. Our own past, the past of our family, our grandparents, how we grew up, what we were taught, what we believed, these all matter a great deal and they affect us more than most of us care to admit.  I'm assuming that with both steps 8 & 9, Fr. Hopko has a sort of Spiritual Advisor in mind, though not necessarily in some official capacity.  

The fact is, our stories matter and the only way to make sense out of who we are is to know our own story, and that can be very difficult to do from the inside.  You need someone you trust who can look at your life story, the characters involved, the various plots, the settings, etc., who can offer an outside perspective that helps you make sense of it all.

And step 10 is kind of a way to tie all the steps together. A journey is always better when undertaken with a group. You need that mutual encouragement, those unique perspectives, those unique wisdoms, someone to pull you up when you've fallen down, so to speak.

Overall, what I think Fr. Hopko is really trying to get across, is that God is serious business, and if someone thinks it's just going to be an interesting intellectual exercise, they're mistaken. We can sit on this boards and discuss the rules of logic, cosmology, history, etc., until we're blue in the face, but we're not going to settle anything here. We're not going to settle it in books, or debates either.

If someone has a genuine desire to find God, there are important things that would prove invaluable in helping someone find Him. It's kind of like a Hobbit in the Shire not believing a word of Frodo's when he tells them he stood on Mt. Doom and the journey that it took to get there. Frodo could show them the maps, he could show them his scars, he could tell them the names of the others who accompanied him, but none of that will make a difference to someone who's not willing to do what it takes to take that same journey and find out for themselves.

That's probably a poor analogy, but it's the first one that came to mind! Someone setting out for a specific end ultimately has to do things that ensure their success.
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« Reply #44 on: January 21, 2011, 01:46:35 AM »

Apologies for making this my first post on the forum, as I have questions of my own (though not over the existence of God).

I would point you to St. John of Damascus' book An Exact Exposition of Orthodoxy, third chapter (I believe, I don't currently have it in front of me). To put it concisely:

All things that are mutable have a Creator
All things within our experience are mutable
Therefore, all things within our experience have a Creator

Due to the impossibility of an actual infinite regress - one is possible in mathematics, but cannot be actualized - logically there must be a beginning point. This is not a case of special pleading, for God being simple (uncomposed) and therefore immutable would not require a beginning point, for He exists outside of time. We say He exists outside of time because time is the measurement from one movement to the other, but if God does not move (that is, if He is not corporeal or composed of parts or capable of changing) then there is no measurement of time and thus no need for a beginning. Matter simply doesn't have this capability as it is composed of parts. Therefore, God must exist.

I hope I didn't overstep any boundaries on this.
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