Is god all in the mind?

Even so, how does one come to this conclusion? How does one come to this sense of knowing there is a God?

So far all i have been able to find is personal experiences are what give rise to belief in God. I am still waiting for such an experience to occur.

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Here is the bit about the parishioner (I think you’ve seen it before?):

Being found by God

During a dark time in her life, a woman in my congregation complained that she had prayed over and over, “God, help me find you,” but had gotten nowhere. A Christian friend suggested to her that she might change her prayer to, “God, come and find me. After all, you are the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep.” She concluded when she was recounting this to me, “The only reason I can tell you this story is – he did.”

Tim Keller, The Reason for God, p.240

What conclusion? That God might encompass nature? Not exactly a conclusive conclusion. What sense? I don’t have it.

I had no experience of God to cause me to believe. I was a 15 year old struggling for meaning. One way and another I thought I’d found it.

Meaning can change.

What experience do you need?


Pick any person in your life. Let’s give that person a temporary label, xyz.

Is xyz all in the mind?

Yes and no.

Yes, because that is what the mind does. It puts all sorts of sensory data together into a coherent picture of reality consisting of various things put under various labels such xyz. This is the process of perception.

No, because while you mind certainly did that, the sensory data did not come from your mind.

Is God any different than xyz?

Yes and no.

No, because there is still data that did not come from your mind.

Yes, because there are always differences which is why we put different labels on the different things we perceive. Differences in the types of sensory data too. Not all the people we know are known by personal experience. Not all are known by the same types of sensory data.

Even if we imagine a first time anyone thought of God or spoke to God, and ask whether everything came from their own mind, I am not sure you can make a clear distinction between the two supposed possibilities.


Some experiences can be pretty definitive as we have seen, both of the external third party verifiable type and the internal but still objective type, not merely emotional. A given individual can be more or less receptive to either, as well.

That’s pretty much exactly what I think. To me God, like who we take ourselves to be, is something we discover, not something we invent. We discover both where consciousness meets the world. Neither is exactly what we naively take them to be. We in what we take ourselves to be, are not as wise or happy as when we remember we serve and make room for what is greater. Neither is God as remote and separate as traditionally supposed. No way of deconstructing what is going on where consciousness and the cosmos meet is entirely adequate. But whatever improves the connection between what is limited and what is more is good.

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Interesting declaration. Not remote and separate as supposed in any Christian traditions! You may be familiar with the words omnipresent and immanent?

This is a great question! Everyone should ask it all the time!
Focused on both is supposed to be how Christians (and I understand your question is actually broad enough to include any person of any faith) live. The greatest and second greatest commands (Love God entirely, and love our neighbors) as summarized by Jesus were exactly what I think you indicate here. Jesus’ summary of the law of God is repeated in his other teachings, in other parts of the New Testament and echoed throughout many parts of the (controversial, I understand) OT. You are not alone in thinking that we should focus our minds and lives on both.

I’ve heard those, who are completely focused on the “hereafter” described as too heavenly-minded to be much earthly good. It’s a valuable criticism, that should help prod all of us into better service of other humans. We are alive NOW and should be making good use of our time NOW investing in what ways we can in showing mercy NOW.
Even in your struggles regarding faith and understanding, there is plenty to do. It doesn’t take a lot of spiritual insight to find needs to be met. Rather, it takes insight of some kind to figure out what you as one individual can do best to improve life for others, because you can’t do it all. But you can work on all of that, at the same time you consider faith issues and/or another plane of existance.


I am a Christian; I think you already knew that. I have not had the kind of experience that I think you’re talking about. I know people who believe they have. I also know people who believe they have, and have been duped. Any testimony I could give you about God’s work or faithfulness in my life is absolutely open to interpretation.

On the other hand, I don’t think matters of faith are best resolved by the scientific method. That also indicates, that I don’t believe that ANY science-oriented apologetic can tell us anything about God at all. So, I’m not interested in pursuing those.

It seems like you crave certainty about God and faith. I would love it, too. The whole history of apologetics indicates that we aren’t alone in that desire. However, I think there’s something really important about giving up on the complete certainty we wish we could expect. When we do, we are able to direct our attention away from what can be a pointless obsession and carry on with our lives. We can pursue wisdom about our questions without being frantic and panicked, and we can carry on meaningful lives at the same time.

Keep at it.


There is wisdom in examining naive expectations while still possessing the capacity to be surprised by the certainty God can provide.

“Therefore know for certain…” Acts 2:36

Naivety thinks it’s all supposed to make sense and every question should find an answer. Cynical finds nothing makes sense, and nameless sees only nothing makes sense.

Surprised by hope is certain he did not lie who said he goes to prepare a place for us. Because he said if were not so, he would have told us.

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I think I can safely agree with your contrast of naivety and cynicism. Although I’m not certain what your motivation is for bringing them up.

It’s valid to contrast the type of certainty that is mentioned in Acts with what is usually discussed in a 21st century context as well. We are not talking about the same thing. Peter preached based on texts from within a culture that held them to be true, at least in a broad sense. He was also talking about an event that was recent to those described in the text. They really could go talk to witnesses of the resurrection. Peter’s sermon took place within the context of a miraculous event itself. Because of the miraculous nature of the events, I think it’s safe to asume that the Holy Spirit was at work as well.

When we talk of certainty today, we’re talking about something quite different, something quantifiable and rational in a way that is divorced from the presence of God in Christ, reference to prophecy, and the work of the Holy Spirit. That is often the promise of what is called apologetics today. We are promised certainty according to Western rationalism without the basis on which rationalism actually functions—the directly observable, repeatable, quatifiable.

Because our secular cultures operate on completely different assumptions than those of the New Testament authors’, what were basic assumptions in those cultures are not ours now. And the idea of certainty that we speak of now is something quite different from at that time. So, let’s not throw the word “certainty” around carelessly or use it as an accusation for lack of faith, when nothing has been presented to build faith.

I’ve said before, I’m a Christian. I believe the faith I have is a gift from God by his grace to me poured out by the Holy Spirit. I don’t pretend to be able to observe forensic evidence for the work of God in my life that would hold up in court. I recognize that what I see as the work of God looks like subjectivity from the outside, and that my own understanding is fallible. Because of my own observations and limitations, I recognize that I need to exercise grace toward someone who is wrestling with uncertainty. I claim Mark 9:24 and John 20:27 for any of us that ever have doubt and dare to wrestle with it. Jesus is a kind and patient God, who deals lovingly with his people.



That’s ironic… I thought it sounded nice to contrast them and was feeling a Bunyan vibe.

That’s looks like it’s meant to be convincing.

The OT narrative and alleged prophecies have certain compelling qualities. Just hearing Walton spend 4-5 hours surveying the presence of God in the OT is outstanding.

The historical arguments for the resurrection I personally would put on the same level as talking to a witness today. Keener’s work on miracles being analogous.

I also think it’s safe to assume that the Holy Spirit is at work today convincing the world of sin. He can do other surprising things as Jonathan Edwards’ faithful account details.

And when all that is put together, I find certainty in believing that God made Jesus to be Lord and Christ.

By the way, thank you for the thoughtful reply, and it’s heymike3, not HeyMike3, or Mike is ok.

Best Regards

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No. That’s my thesis statement, the proposition I discussed in the next few paragraphs. It’s part of the common structure used in essay writing.

I agree with you in so far as these prophecies are viewed from within a community or context of faith. They may, indeed, be compelling to some non-believers, but only with the aid of the Holy Spirit. But the work of the Holy Spirit is not universal or predictable. We cannot know how he will work in any one individual. We certainly have no license to claim “cynic” when an individual finds our reasons for belief uncompelling, particularly a person who is publicly asking for help with matters of faith.

I’m repeated this, because it is the key to the point I’m making.

Throwing in Bunyan and Edwards, as great as they are, is not always helpful. They too, argued from within a different set of assumptions and a community that supported faith in God.
It’s not reasonable to condemn a person for not experiencing certainty in regard to faith, because an apologetic doesn’t convince them. An apologetic is not equivalent to the the work of the Holy Spirit. Finding an apologetic argument inadequate is not equivalent to cynicism.

I encourage you to continue to seek to find effective means of sharing your faith and helping others see the beauty of our Christ. But this is not precisely the work many of us have been trained to believe it is.

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Thesis or not. It looks like it’s a statement you are convinced of.

I would only condemn the believer who says certainty does not exist. I would be more patient with the believer who struggles to understand how certainty exists. And I can more than sympathize with the unbeliever having been one myself and having wrestled for so long with having certainty in my belief.

While I think I am slow to publicly accuse an individual of being a cynic, I sometimes suspect it with people who openly contradict their statements, or deny their ability to act and make choices.

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Especially when it is said with certainty. ; - )

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I was thinking about this again. The reference I made was to Edwards’ account of the great awakening as he experienced the work of the Holy Spirit in his context. The work of Spirit does take many forms. There is no dispute there. But there are a number of underlying structures that carry through to all times and places. The Spirit brings the knowledge or perception of God’s holiness, the conviction of sin, and there is also the fruit of the Spirit in the life of every believer.

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The only personal experience that I have had that seems to demand a direct supernatural role (in contrast to God’s usual pattern of working in nature and in us) was negative - my brother and I both felt a strange feeling like something trying to shake us when an apostate from Christianity came around door-to-door promoting a cult. For me, faith comes more as a conviction that Christianity is coherent and true. But that reflects my personality. God may connect to each of us in somewhat different ways - we should not let someone else’s experience dictate our expectations, though there are certainly common patterns.


Interesting character, Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards owned slaves until the day he died. In 1759,
How Could Jonathan Edwards Own Slaves?