Finding God again?


(Alan James) #1

Hello everyone

I just signed up there now. I have some issues I used to believe in God but now I do not. Recently however I have been feeling a “force” towards religion and God again. However, I find it difficult to reconcile evolution and religion.

I have been comforted with knowing that many contemporary thinkers believe in both such as Prfessor John Lennox, Professor Alister McGrath and the list goes on and on …

I was wondering if anyone has found themsleves in the same position as me and how everything worked out for you. I would appreciate any feedback or discussion on this.

I look forward to talking to all of you

Many thanks

Alan


(Patrick ) #2

Alan,
Reconciling evolution and religion is part of a bigger question of whether any kind of faith can ever be reconciled with advancing scientific knowledge. Biologos goals are to harmonize science with one particular faith -Christianity. While a noble goal in a post-Christian, scientific America, I don’t see science ever harmonizing with any non-evidence based faith. Scientific knowledge is advancing too rapidly in all fields to be “harmonized” with any faith unless that faith just confines itself with the unknowable. Once something is known, it is no longer in the preview of faith.

The feelings you are feeling are your evolved human brain’s quest for knowledge. Seek out that knowledge as there is a lot to learn. But there is a lot for you to learn that is already known and readily available. Open your mind and seek knowledge and you will be amazed at how wonderful you will feel.


(Brad Kramer) #3

@alan1987, thanks so much for so openly sharing your journey here. I want to offer a different perspective than @Patrick. I have been a Christian my entire life (in one form or another), and only briefly abandoned the faith in high school. In other words, I don’t think my journey has exactly been like yours. However, I can sympathize with feeling torn between doubts and fears on one hand, and a strong pulling towards God on the other hand. That pulling on my heart was something I couldn’t deny, and it was one factor that kept me in the faith.

C.S. Lewis is someone who has gone through a similar journey. He was an atheist for a good portion of his early adult life, and became a Christian partially as a result of feeling a longing for something beyond this mere material world. Here’s how he put it:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

By “another world”, he means the new creation for which all humans were made. If Christianity is true, it makes total sense that humans should have intuitive knowledge for something beyond mere existence. This knowledge should manifest itself in irrepressible desire for communion for the divine, for transcendent meaning and purpose, and for life after death. Sure enough, all three things are universal among almost all human societies in history. Of course, this doesn’t prove Christianity is true, but it does show that it resonates with universal human experience.

It seems to me that a lot of the conflict between Christianity and evolution comes from a reductionistic perspective that tends to see evolution as limiting meaning and purpose to the purely natural and random. But as you have experienced, this is simply an incomplete way of looking at the world. Christianity offers a way to understand both the God who uses evolutionary processes, and a way to frame natural history as a stepping stone towards the new creation.

That was really broad, partially because your original post was pretty short. I would love to dialogue more about any of this.


(Patrick ) #4

I agree with Brad. You can have a good and meaningful life being a Christian and accepting current scientific truths such as evolution, the big bang, genetics, geology, and all scientific knowledge and pursuits. What would make me smile, is that if you and Brad would acknowledge that I also can lead a good and meaningful life as a “none” who accepts science as our best description of our world/universe.


(Connor Mooneyhan) #5

@alan1987 In short, I had also found it difficult to reconcile evolution with my faith. You can find a more complete version of my story at http://biologos.org/blog/how-science-shook-my-faith, but I won’t belabor that here. Have you tried looking at BioLogos’ “Common Questions” tab on their home page? It is a wonderful introductory resource on the matter. Anyways, what really helped me was reading the articles here on BioLogos and realizing that it was clearly possible to respect what the Bible said as well as giving credence to science in an equally serious manner. I also read some of Francis Collins’ work, which led to some study of C.S. Lewis’ apologetics as well. Francis Collins talks more directly about the evolution-religion conflict, but he gets a lot of his pure Christian apologetics ideas from Lewis, who’s work is laid out extraordinarily in Lewis’ book Mere Christianity.

So reading all this stuff is extremely helpful, but it has also strengthened both my faith and my view of science to participate in The BioLogos Forum. I see you have already started that process :wink:, but I would encourage you to keep checking up on here and if not participating in discussion, at least reading it so you can see the dialogue play out in near-live action. It really is encouraging to see people discussing the exact same things that you have questions about.

I would like to note that I’m not some sort of BioLogos Supremacist or anything, but I really enjoy the format they have here and I find it very helpful for people at all stages of belief, even non-belief. I look forward to possibly seeing you here in the time to come :smile:

In love,
Connor


(Mervin Bitikofer) #6

Hi, Alan – and welcome to Biologos (from a frequent commenter here).

This site is a good community to kick ideas around in – there is obviously wide diversity, and yet with (mostly) civil and informed discourse, making this a gem on the web. Its “light-to-heat” ratio, (even in the comments!, but especially in the essays) is higher than most.


(Patrick ) #7

Brad,
I have to comment about this quote. Pre-911 I would say that this quote is good and hopeful, but after 911, I find it dangerous and potentially deadly. If belief in an afterlife can cause some to crash airplanes into buildings, don’t we have to be careful not to devalue this life in a quest for an afterlife?


My ID Challenge
(Dcscccc) #8

hi alan. i had a similar situation. now i actually think that science actually support that god exist. we know for example that a complex systems like the bacterial flagellum (actually a real spining organic motor in the bacteria “tail”)need a designer(like a self replicating w atch with dna need one). you can start from this article for more interesting details about the eviidence for design in nature:

http://creation.com/design-features-questions-and-answers

yours sincerely.


(Patrick ) #9

Not true. Has been totally debunked years ago.


(Alan James) #10

Hello everyone
Thank you very much for all of your replies it is nice to generate such a discussion and to hear that other people had / have similar thoughts.

I can see myself reconciling faith in God and evolution. But I have to admit, there would still be a few other hurdles. Take the story of Noah’s ark for example, can I really believe this literally happened? Even if I did find faith in God again I would still struggle with issues like this.

Has anyone else had similar issues in a literal interpretation of certain parts of the bible?

Once again

Many thanks

Alan


(Patrick ) #11

Alan,
Please say that you have at least a little moral trepidation in believing that the largest and most thorough act of genocide in history makes for a great children’s story.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #12

@alan1987

Hi, Alan; you raise some good questions; and as you might guess, this site has an accumulating wealth of committed Christians addressing all these questions. One way to get to those resources is to go to Biologos.org/blog and type something like “flood” into the search box. And then: this is the top essay showing in that list (which I recommend if you just want to click the link above from here.) Of course, I guess Biologos is about to revamp their site, so maybe the strategy above won’t work for much longer; but I trust they will leave the resources available and searchable in whatever new format they present.

In summary, that particular essay argues that nothing in Scriptures requires that the event be understood as “global” with the same meaning that we invest in that word today. You won’t find any discussion there, but you would be welcome to bring questions on it back here for discussion.


(Dcscccc) #13

no realy. they found a ttss system with some similar parts. but its not prove that those systems evolve from each other. car and airplane also share some parts: wheels, feul and so on. but they not evolve from each other. even if they was self replicating.


(Jim Lock) #14

Hey Alan,

All the time. You’ve touched on an issue that comes up pretty regularly in this forum. Specifically, how does one decide which parts of the Bible are literal and which are not. If I decide that I can accept a poetic 7 days, what about Adam and Eve? If I keep extending my poetic reading through Noah and the Flood, what stops me from deciding that the resurrection of Jesus was a poetic allegory? If I decide that the truth of Genesis does not lie in any historical or scientific sense, how do I deal with New Testament references to those events? All of these questions are ones that I have struggled with. While I have some thoughts on Genesis and other parts of the Bible, I have a hard time saying with absolute certainty that the flood did, did not, or partially happened. At the moment, I’ve found peace in humbly accepting that I don’t know. To sum up, I would put forward the following for your consideration.

What EXACTLY is it that you are considering putting your faith in? If your faith relies ‘knowing’ all the mysteries of the Bible then I am afraid that you are setting yourself up for disappointment. If you base your faith on the resurrection of Jesus, then I think you have a solid foundation with which to explore those mysteries. Hope that helps and thanks for poking your head into this forum!

Respectfully,
Jim


(Mazrocon) #16

Hey Patrick.

If you’re interested in an in-depth discussion on the “genocide” texts in the Bible may I recommend a great book called Did God Really Command Genocide by Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan.

It’s a very exhaustive study in how Christians and Atheists have understood these difficult passages through out history, and it’s implications both philosophically, theologically, legally, morally, etc.

As Christians I believe there’s certain obligations for us to thoroughly investigate the claims, perspectives, of people who don’t believe (or think) like we do. Which, unfortunately, not every Christian likes to address contrary viewpoints and steer away from them… Which to me, can give Christianity a bad name.

Just like a Christian shouldn’t readily discount a claim by science, simply because of pre-conceived notions, an atheist should give religion the same considerations.

Your friend,
Timothy


(Patrick ) #17

Tim,
Thanks for the reference, I will check it out. Regarding the entire story of Noah, I just never could my scientific mind and my morality around it, even as a child. Scientifically, if there was truth to the story, there have to be some major indisputable evidences about its existence. This was suppose to have happened globally and just 4350 years ago and affected all people and all plants and animals worldwide. 4300 years ago there was 100’s of million people in the world spread over five continents. Something should have registered something about it, even if it was just locally occurring in just an area of the Levant. Today, wouldn’t you think that your genome and mine would converge to Noah and the other seven survivors? So the evidences just isn’t there to take a literal approach to it.

So what is left is a non-literal interpretation. That is where I have moral issues with the story. When is it okay to condone mass genocide? Of all people, young and old, to death? In addition all animals and plants? Saying everybody was wicked just isn’t enough. That is why I am strongly against telling of this story to children. It gives the wrong moral message. No matter how it is sugar coated, it is a story of mass genocide and justification of it. A child hearing that story today is given a message to listen to God’s commands no matter how innately morally wrong it may seem. In fact it is usually glorified, in showing Noah “taking care of” all the animals. To me, it is not a story to be glorified and certain not worthy of a huge relica in the middle of Kentucky paid for with sales tax subsidies.


(Mazrocon) #18

Hello again.

While I appreciate your obvious concerns here I will try my best (though I’m sure others before me have explained better) to explain my views on this complicated topic.

Also on a side note I misinterpreted your meaning of “genocide” – I thought you were referring to the deliberate massacre of a particular ethnic group, so the book I suggest was about the Joshua Wars.

There is evidence of a local flood that occurred in the Mesopotamian region, around that same time period, I think it’s called the Black Sea basins. As for some interpreters like Hugh Ross, he takes the flood to be, although devastating, not global (some of this can be inferred from the text itself… Inconsistencies in the account about the mountaintops being seen while the dove finds no rest for the sole of her foot… She brings back an olive branch).

I’m not sure about the 8 sole survivors since that seems to describe some level of incest, and not a huge amount of time given to repopulate.

As for the total destruction of humanity, it’s indeed a very difficultly topic. I believe some have pointed out, that according to Genesis he spent 100-120 years building the ark on dry land. That’s quite a big witness, for a lengthy period of time, for the people to repent. Not too mention quite a huge boat that would fit lots of people.

A lot of NT Scholars bring out the similarities between Noah’s situation and that of Jesus. Both preach to the ungodly about repenting lest they experience doom. Both give a large time for those of them to turn from their ways.

But of course, there’s still the high chance of children and babies that could get wiped out by the flood — in Genesis 19 there’s an interesting “debate” Abraham has with God about Him being righteous in his judgement. “will not the judge of all the earth deal righteously and not kill the righteous with the wicked” — it’s a very interesting and powerful chapter I recommend reading.

I think, however, despite such dramatic events such as the flood, people don’t see the “big picture”… God created everyone on this planet, and is all powerful… Over thousands of years he is indirectly responsible for billions of deaths… But many don’t think this way and concentrate on isolated events?

It all seems pretty drab and meaningless… But then Jesus came along and changed things. He (as God incarnate) dwelt amongst us as lowly humans. He was tempted like we are, yet resisted. He died on the cross as penalty for our sins… Then rose again showing us our true potential. He didn’t have to do it… But he did it anyway.

I know if you’re a non-Christian this probably won’t have much affect on you… But it’s the single most important message in the whole Bible — and for believers, the entire world. We probably won’t totally understand all the great mysteries of the Bibles in our lifetimes… But as a Christian we can’t misunderstand the gospel of Jesus Christ. All other doctrinal disputes pail in comparison.

That’s all I have for now, my friend — best wishes
Timothy


(Patrick ) #19

Isn’t the total destruction of humanity the main subject of the story? How do you get around that? As a moral person living in 2015 America, how could someone justify retelling of this story and somehow justifying or even glorifying such actions even by a diety, a loving and moral one?

You mentioned Abraham, I cringed when I heard that Abraham-Issac story when I was a little boy. How could Abraham even consider doing that to his son? As a little boy, I couldn’t image my father doing that to me. As a father now, I would never tell that story to my children (or even let someone else tell it to them), it is frightening to a child, and could be considered child abuse telling them stories like that.


No Justice in the Curse
(Mazrocon) #20

I don’t believe I’ve necessarily “glorified” the story… Maybe justified but I don’t know what you mean by “glory”?

The focal point is the destruction of humanity based on the continual wickedness and violence of man… The picture being painted isn’t people singing carols while throwing flowers in the air. It’s murder and violence.

God never destroys places, people groups, etc. In it’s entirety. There’s alway a remnant that gets saved. God never change his initial plans of bringing a messiah into the world, because Noah was saved.

In the case of Ninevah, Jonah preached to the wicked town and all the people repented. They weren’t cast down. This isn’t the picture you see in Noah. There is no repentance.

You may think my viewpoint is radical, but if God truly did create all of humanity, then at the end of the day, he has the right to do what he wishes with his creation. God doesn’t “owe us” anything, because he didn’t have to create us. It’s by his grace and mercy that we get to have relationship with Him.

In my opinion the Abraham-Isaac ordeal is more horrifying than the Flood. According to Rabbi David Wolpe the Binding of Isaac is one of the most intensely debated stories, by Jews, in all the Bible.

Obviously the sacrifice never actually took place because the angel put a stop to it. However that doesn’t detract from the fact Abraham was still intending on doing it. I agree that it seems more appropriate for more mature audiences.

In your own words could you perhaps describe how one can have a loving God who grants humans free-will, to choose wrong or right, and yet not have the qualities of justice, mercy and forgiveness? If there is good and evil in the world then I’m not sure how one cannot have the concept of justice, too?

If God created everything and just “walked away” that would not be a God intimately involved with his Creation. That would be a deistic God or a stoic one.

-Tim


(Christy Hemphill) #21

Peter Enns wrote an excellent children’s Bible curriculum called Telling God’s Story (or at least he started it and mapped out the direction, I think Rachel Marie Stone took over the writing in the third book.) Anyway, he says pretty much the exact same thing. The Old Testament stories are not “children’s stories,” and it requires a certain amount of social and intellectual maturity to understand them in their cultural context and take away the appropriate takeaways.

I work with an indigenous people group. Part of our job is to work with local writers to document local legends, folk tales, and oral histories. Most of the stories we are told don’t make much sense to us as cultural outsiders. Sometimes, the “morals” that are obvious to the insiders have to be spelled out and explained a few times for us to even have a clue. Many times they come out sounding very violent or depressing to our ears. There is a whole body of cultural knowledge and pragmatic conventions that any cultural narrative constantly makes reference to, and the less common ground the hearers have with the original composers of the text, the more of the intended meaning gets lots.

So I try to keep that in mind when I read the Old Testament. If Jesus was God made visible and relatable, then that is the ultimate revelation of God’s true character. Where it seems obvious to me that an Old Testament story portrays something contrary to the nature that Jesus reveals, I assume I am misunderstanding something because of my cultural distance from and lack of common ground with the text.

I don’t see the focus of the Noah narrative as being genocide any more than the focus of Cinderella is sadistic child abuse. I think it is about God providing a way of salvation, and it’s intended to foreshadow the themes of chosen-ness and redemption that are important to the Jewish identity and important for understanding of the Messiah’s mission on earth.