Saturday, February 25, 2012

ask God to prove himself to me.

the atheist concept of Revelation

On CARM (atheist message board) Vladimir posts:

Could I request something from any believers here, who have a good relationship with God and who regularly pray to God for guidance and direction and who hear God's voice (no matter how subtle)?

Next time that you pray, could you ask God to tell any of the non-believers here something profound?

A message from God himself for the non-believers here would be appreciated.

I'm being serious. Not joking.
I'm sure this sounds perfectly reasonable to many atheists. It's like a scientific test, what better way to prove that no one is "up there answering prayers?" There are some problems with approach. The irony is I remember an atheist on CARM who had as a signature some quote about "if God revealed himself to me I would not believe my senses." So he's saying een if God revealed himself I wouldn't believe is. So why ask? I know all atheists aren't saying that, but at least for that one guy it's a real pretense to ask questions like this.

The major problem is it's a means of circumventing the search in the heart that God has designed belief to be. The search is real imporant becuase it enables us to interlace the values of the good. If God did force his presence upon the world in such a way that no one could doubt many would resent it. the more lib service they felt forced to give the more deeply they would resent it. But those who seek for the truth and find in a leap of faith have a personal commitment of love. It's that existential aspect that people most fear, and this is most necessary to the search; the point whereon realizes the nature of ones own being is that of content upon God. That's the moment of truth, the only choices are get "real" with God in your heart (repent and change) or reject the whole thing and live in pretense telling yourself "i'm a smart tough cool skeptic."


the evidence is he communicated with us. your evidence that he doesn't is just that you haven't open enough to receive it. that is not a disproof. your narrow mindedness is not a disproof of God.

Originally Posted by A Hermit View Post
Then you have no reason to expect anyone else to believe, do you?
I never said I EXPECT anyone to believe me. I expect people to listen and think about my reasons but so atheist ever do.


Those are a rather different order of belief though; I have a mother and brothers and went to school too; on the other hand you're telling me that the almighty, all loving creator of the universe chooses to talk to you, but not to me; or on the other hand that I'm too stupid/ignorant/selfish/small minded/evil/not fully human enough to measure up to your standards when it comes to appreciating the depth and beauty of life because I don't choose to embrace you language for it.

"talk" here is metaphor right? I didn't say God wont communicate with you. You are decided to ignore and pretend it's unreal the communication that he did do and to close off the possibly of future communication. that's your deal.

Yes you do or you wouldn't work so hard at convincing me and others, or react so strongly to something as innocuous as my last comment...

I'm not out to destroy or damn anyone or anything; just to suggest an alternative point of view. Why does that make you so angry?

Originally Posted by Electric Skeptic View Post
God is (supposedly) omnipotent. If he tried to communicate to anyone, he would do so. Claims that he tries but fails mean that he is not omnipotent.
If you believe God to be not omnipotent, fine. If you do not, you are contradicting yourself.

No, you do not prove God at all.


I have discussed in the past the problem with the concept of omnipotence and how it's an anti quested concept. that's become your excuse. the one thing God requires you to do is the one thing you refuse to do.

becuase you refuse to do it your big excuse is "it's God's fault I rejected him because he didn't make it so overwhelming enough I couldn't deny it."

that's an excuse. that's not searching.

"you don't prove God at all!" can't you see what an excuse that is? I say over and over again. Its' not about proof, can't prove it because God is beyond understanding. the battle is in the heart. you have to search in your heart and when God reveals himself that's where he iwll do it."

your answer to all that is "but he didn't do it MY WAY so I'm absolved of all responsibility!"

as long as you refuse to repent and seek God in the heart! there ant gonna be no revelation.

why should the king existence surrender to your terms? YOU surrender! you take his terms!


Dave said...

There are some problems with your responses. One is similar to the problem people sometimes have with "mind" in Buddhism. The actual sense of the term in the East is more akin to (if not precisely the same) as "spirit" in the West. That is, it isn't just the rational, reductionist, pattern-reinforcing "left-brain" thinking; it includes the holistic, interconnected perspective of the "right-brain" as well.

So, what do people in Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam etc. mean when they talk about "the heart?" In modern Western societies this has come to mean the seat of passion and the source of sentimentality. But along with non-theistic religions, it traditionally meant something more. That would be a good topic for you to post about. What is the heart? And how exactly does one "open" it or explore it, etc, in terms that non-spiritually oriented people can grasp? I very much sympathize with those who are frustrated at the use of such language with the assumption that it's meaning is supposed to be obvious, when for many it is not. I have yet to see anyone who can explain to those whose personality isn't predisposed to such things in the first place.

The other problem is that many people do try to "seek" and, as above, are misunderstanding what others are saying or unable to replicate the intended experience. Just claiming lack of sincerity, or effort, or some other failing is presumptuous and insulting. I have yet to see any posts (not oblique comments) dealing with the idea of sincere individuals who still do not "find" God. Or do you just rationalize this away by claiming that they really aren't serious or that they have already found God but just don't know it? Do you allow for something other than this kind of denial that sincere people don't always find God? If so, that would be a good post as well.

Kristen said...

"God is (supposedly) omnipotent. If he tried to communicate to anyone, he would do so. Claims that he tries but fails mean that he is not omnipotent."

This is a false dichotomy. It says that if God is omnipotent, God must force everyone to receive His communications or God cannot exist. The idea that God could have power but choose not to use it is not an option. Why?

An adult is stronger than a child, but that doesn't mean the adult has to use his or her strength to force a child to listen. If the adult doesn't use force, does that make her weak? Non-existent? I think not.

Dave said...

Metacrock: Hmm, "denial" is too strong of a word, but I was in a rush and couldn't come up with a better term. I was thinking in terms of what you do or don't consider, not implying that you are *in* denial. BTW, I know you have larger concerns, but I keep hearing about this book "Christianity After Religion". Sounds like something your readers may be interested in reading. Be well.

Kristen: Isn't there a difference between forcing someone to do something and making yourself known? If an adult wanted to speak to a child, shouldn't the adult be able to make herself heard? Even if she was being ignored? Especially if she wasn't being ignored and the child was curious or seeking to hear her voice?

Metacrock said...

Dave, Kristen I am facing a personal crisis and may not have time to blog.

I have always suspected that the "Buddha mind" is not based upon ratiocination. I know the phrase used by Buddhists "neither a mind nor a non mind." Tillich was influenced by that in his latter life. he already had a view that God is transperosnal. you are right in saying it's not the same as the calculating intellect of the West. I don't imagine it that way. I think it is not excluding personal identification and love. God knows us as individuals and cares about it us as such. But God is much more than that too.

Metacrock said...

I like both your comments. I'll try to deal with them latter.

Metacrock said...

Dave says:

"I was thinking in terms of what you do or don't consider, not implying that you are *in* denial. BTW, I know you have."

that's cool. I didn't think it was meant that way.

Kristen said...

Dave said:

"Isn't there a difference between forcing someone to do something and making yourself known? If an adult wanted to speak to a child, shouldn't the adult be able to make herself heard? Even if she was being ignored? Especially if she wasn't being ignored and the child was curious or seeking to hear her voice?"

Well, you can't take an analogy like this too far. First of all, I was addressing a comment made by someone who is demanding "proof" of God, not someone who is seeking and not finding God. The idea was that of a child refusing to listen, not a child who was unable to hear for some reason.

All the analogy was really meant to show was that it is possible for God to limit Xis own power so that God's communications are not inescapable. A side effect of that might be that sometimes a person who is seeking to "hear" God might not be able to. I do think that somehow, even if it isn't till the next life, the sincere seeker will find.

Metacrock said...

That's a good answer Kristen. Except I think you mean you can take the analogy too far?

Dave said...

Yes, analogies can be over-extended, but it still leaves "believers" with the inability to claim that others just don't want to find God, which is Metacrock's basic position. And it also begs the question of how important finding God is to God if God doesn't make such communication readily available to all.

Thus it makes much more sense to not think of God as a being with a personality and a personal will, because all the problems people have with God (from theodicy on down) stem from this image. "God wants", "God thinks", "God feels", "God wills". It's just human projection onto the divine that makes God either impotent, incompetent, incoherent, or immoral. If these personified views of God were themselves seen as over-extended analogies of the divine, God would have no qualities of planned action or volition except as realized in sentient beings.

If "God" is instead a reaction to a recognition or realization or perception of some more inclusive and profound aspect of reality, that is, a cultural construct or image to capture the reaction to this new orientation to existence, then these other problems are avoided. God really does go beyond human language and categories of "personal" and "impersonal". Unlike mere claims that God is beyond these things which then turn around and try to sneak this anthropomorphic, personified "God" in through the back door: "Oh, God is beyond human categories and labels, but God wills this and God does that."

Lastly, some scholars suggest that belief in an afterlife and in resurrection became popular in Judaism after the Babylonian captivity because it was clear that the righteous weren't receiving justice in this life. Hence a new life was needed to settle accounts. But even in the time Jesus taught, as I am sure folks who read this blog know, there were still many in Judaism who did not believe in an afterlife.

Even among those who favor some notion of an afterlife in the Judeo-Christian tradition, before the whole "this world is nothing only the next world counts" attitude became common among some Christians, it was (and in many cases still is) very important not to make too much over such distinctions. As one monk said, what matters isn't whether you live in the next world but whether you are alive in this one.

And to to some extent that is important even for those centered on the "next life". That is, either one must come to know God in "this life" to have an afterlife (or one without torture) or one actually comes to know that there is no afterlife per se, simply finding the true depth of life within this temporary bodily experience.

Even those who favor the "this life"/"afterlife" scenario without hell or eternal damnation recognize the value and importance of what people learn and how much they grow and mature in "this life". So claims that everyone will come to know God, even if it isn't in this life, ring hollow. It sounds just like the claims of those who needed to believe in divine justice by believing in an afterlife or resurrection so that they could maintain a view of God consistent with their pre-established beliefs.

Again, if "God" is just a personified construct of some deeper experience of consciousness and if consciousness is the ground of being, then all of these rationalizations and theological assertions about why God would or wouldn't do X, Y, Z become moot along with much of the distinction between "this life" and an "after life".

Kristen said...

Yeah, by "can't" I meant "shouldn't." You shouldn't take the analogy too far.

Kristen said...

Dave said:

. . .God really does go beyond human language and categories of "personal" and "impersonal". Unlike mere claims that God is beyond these things which then turn around and try to sneak this anthropomorphic, personified "God" in through the back door. . .

It seems to me that your descriptions, Dave, then turn around and try to sneak an impersonal view of God in through the back door.

Maybe the problem is that to really understand "beyond personal or impersonal" in a way that means anything to us, is nearly impossible for us humans to accomplish. Maybe it makes some sense to say "God wills this" or "God does that" because we really don't know how else to understand it-- because though God is not a person, I do not believe that means God is less than a person (some impersonal, un-self-aware, passionless "force" or "field").

It's like the physicists who will use an analogy like, "think of the universe as a soap bubble." And then if you ask them, "Is the universe like a soap bubble?" they will say, "Absolutely not. But if it helps you understand it better, go ahead and think of it that way." I think that thinking about God is like that. All we can do is either think of God as personal, or impersonal-- but since neither is accurate, at least thinking of God as personal helps us understand God a little better than thinking of God as a "force" or a "field" or something does.

Dave said...

Kristen, I specifically avoid making God out to be a person or a non-person. If people take the lack of affirmation of God-as-person God as personal as an endorsement of God as non-person or impersonal, there isn't much I can do about that.

Recall that in my working theoretical view (God is an intellectual hobby for me), everything is God. That would include my dog, the rock outside, and you. So, I cannot say that you are non-person, or that the rock is a person. So to say that God is strictly one or the other is illogical.

My objection is to the idea that God is a person, an individual. It may be easier for humans to draw a face on the Great Mystery, but I object when people start worshiping that graffiti and telling me what it wills and desires.

It's like Tom Hanks and the beach ball in that island movie I never saw. People want to make God into their own personal or collective "Wilson".