A happy Saturday to everyone,
I’m a little lower yesterday and this morning, but not too bad. 4/10. I made the “mistake” of spending a chunk of my time between work duties yesterday reading through the “ID censors one of their own” thread. Maybe I haven’t got to the “good” part yet, but reading Christians denigrate each other over the strength of their various opinions and argument tactics while I am in here fighting for my mind is extremely disheartening. Where is the unity in Christ? Where is the love that is supposed to characterize a disciple of Christ? It strikes at the heart of my hope in the very existence of the Holy Spirit; the church seems such a mess.
@GJDS - Thank you for the poetry. It is always deeply personal and an act of vulnerability to share a creative work with others, and I appreciate your willingness to be open in that way. Do you use this work as a mantra-like guide to summarize gospel? How do you incorporate it into your previous suggestions? And I guess my question on how to start on your approach (with ‘how do I know anything’) is still out there.
@Jay313 - I am doing what you suggest but with the Psalms to start, as they seem to speak to me for the first time in my life. They are also totally non-controversial as far as inerrency goes; everyone accepts that they are poetic, with some prophetic quality to varying degrees. Whoever the author, someone ancient wrote it, and I can identify with their angst. I’m not sure I can completely push aside the books and arguments, but I will continue to make more space there. It is hard not to pray for certainty - I want it desperately. But I do want Jesus more. The nagging questions return though; do I love Jesus because He is and I was made for Him? Or because the Christian story is the most resonant fit for the programming of my biology? In the last week I have been able to thrust that aside. . . somewhat.
@gbrooks9 - Thank you George for always responding so faithfully. Whenever I have a post you are here and get back to me. It means a lot to me that you care enough to make this thread a priority for you, and not just a venue for pushing your own opinion.
One thing to realize is that evolutionary forces on mammals… millions of years all dedicated to one thing… promoting the Will To Live and to Find Meaning …
Your brain should be predisposed to:
- see God in the wind,
- finding meaning in coincidences,
- and to believe that there is a grand purpose.
I can see selection favouring “will to live” but not so much “finding meaning”, which includes 1,2,3. In a pure naturalistic materialist model, inferring “meaning” must be either an accidental and/or incidental byproduct of increasing intelligence that conferred survival advantage, or maybe it was an advantageous adaptive illusion for the intelligent organism by keeping it from killing itself over the horrible, awful, useless meaninglessness of a godless existence.
I agree that if what I have indicated is true, insight into this is non-adaptive behaviour - if I lose faith and kill myself how does that translate on evolutionary terms? Then again, I’ve already had four offspring, and evolution certainly hasn’t had time to “weed out” those of us that through our “biological programming” recognize the implications of a theory less than 100 years old. So my thinking/programming may simply be maladaptive in the modern ‘environment’ of current human knowledge.
There is no need for subtlety in suggesting that I am depressed - that much is obvious to me and everyone else I think.
Now… on the flip side… the fact that you are so determined to reject “fuzzy magical thinking” because it HAS to be true is fallacious in itself.
You lost me here. I’m not sure what you mean.
So… once again… I say look at the miracle of consciousness … If you took a grown person and eliminated all conscious awareness … I believe a good number of Atheists would agree that he would continue to function just as he always functioned… and even say the same things.
. . . which I agree is an extremely weird thing to contemplate. Why do “I” have any perspective on anything. How can it be that a bunch of atoms in a random universe came together and some portion of them compose “me”, and only for a time, and have insight into this? What am “I”? Can “I” just be an accidental construct of my biological brain? How can non-conscious components organize themselves into conscious insight?
This used to be a strong argument for me, but I have learned through this time that I am susceptible to propaganda. If a smart person makes a bold claim, I find myself nodding my head more often than I likely should. When a smart atheist like a Dennett comes along and tells me that I’m wrong, I tend to believe them. So I end up coming here looking for smart Christians.
@staceyinaus - Thank you for the blessings and the kind words. I’m sure the path I’m treading is not unique, and I came here initially to hear from people like you.
It’s interesting that you mention supernatural response to prayer; you are the first to mention that in any thread at BioLogos that I have read so far (admittedly my reading has not been very exhaustive). Shortly after my crisis began I visited a Ghanaian pastor friend of mine who says he has been present in a prayer meeting where he and others prayed for a person with a congenitally malformed upper limb, and over the course of the evening it grew back, hand and all. I asked him again if it was true, and he said yes. Initially that gave me huge comfort, and I was pretty much my old self or even more enthusiastic about the the church and our mission for about three weeks, before doubt began to gnaw away at me again. I mean, if the name of Jesus still heals, how much do other arguments really matter? But how much can I trust any person’s account? And how much can I even trust my own senses or experiences? And then I look at the Church as a whole and see a gong show so much of the time. . . and I look at the suffering in the world and have no good theology for fusing that with an evolutionary origins model. . . and the wheels all start to fall off again.
On balance though, my own life experience proclaims God’s involvement and glory. If I had only the account of my life, and none of the arguments that drive me mad about theology, origins, or suffering. . . if I had only my own story, I don’t think I’d have a struggle. Oh to live in 1893!
@Richard_Wright1 - Thanks so much for wading into the discussion. You jumped into an ever growing thread and put a lot of time into your response, like so many here have, and it really speaks to how much you care.
It’s interesting that you mentioned fasting. When this all started, I went on an 8-day water only fast - the first of that length that I have done in my life. I had hoped to get some sort of epiphany of God’s presence in the midst of that, and when that didn’t happen (it’s a bit presumptuous to try to force God’s hand perhaps), I had not really reconsidered it. I also wonder a little bit how genuine a fast can be when you don’t have a lot of appetite anyway. I’ve lost 25 pounds since this ordeal began.
The testimony of others and the incredible positive change in peoples lives that comes from faith in Christ is evidence to me that Christianity is absolutely, unequivocally the only hope for humanity. I am totally convinced of that. The uncertainty gripped my mind when it became believable to me that that may be true only incidentally, in that just because Christianity is good for our species (increases birth rate, healthiness, happiness, etc), doesn’t equate to its content being true. That there is massive disunity in the Church, that there is uneven experience of suffering and “goodness” in the lives of believers and unbelievers alike, and that the supernatural seems rare and ‘sneaky’ if verifiable at all (as opposed to its central necessity in the Acts church), makes it really disorienting to try to understand how God is at work now and in post-apostolic history. That is not to say that there is an inherent disunity between what is described in the Bible and our experience; not at all. It’s just that our own experience doesn’t always include the dramatic supernatural verification that one (me!) might hope would make faith easy.
we still need God for a life-friendly universe, for the cross and for the bible.
I guess where I seem to fall short is that just because I need Him, and I want Him, doesn’t mean He is there. But I’m trying to be certain where I can be, hopeful where I must be, and humble while I search.
Thanks again to everyone for not abandoning me! I’m sorry that I’m not easily ‘fixed’!