What Would You Consider Your "Intellectual Reasons" for a Godly Belief?

My reasons for belief… I have posted them before. But here they are again…

  1. As a physicist I have to ask myself as other physicists have asked themselves whether life as we experience really can be summed up in the mathematical equations of physics. My necessarily subjective conclusion, the same as many others, is that the very idea is absurd. Science puts our experience through the filter of mathematical glasses and to be sure this methodology has proven marvelously successful at not only explaining many things but discovering new things about the world that we never expected. But this is just looking at life in one particular way and I think it is quite foolish to confuse this way of looking at things with the reality itself.

  2. It was through existentialism that I made a connection that first gave some meaning to the word “God” for me (I was not raised in a religion unless it is the “religions” of liberalism and psychology). I came to the conclusion that the most fundamental existentialist faith was the faith that life was worth living. I also concluded that for theists their faith in God played the same role for them in their lives, suggesting that the two kinds of faith were really the same thing in different words. That equivalence basically became my working definition for “God”, and from there it was a matter of judging what understanding of God best served that purpose.

  3. Physicists experience shock and cognitive dissonance when they first understand what quantum physics is saying for it seems to contradict the logical premises of physics and scientific inquiry itself. But there is one thing that makes sense of it to me at least. If the universe was the creation of a deity who wanted keep his fingers in events then these facts of quantum physics would provide a back door in the laws of nature through which He could do so without disturbing the laws of nature. I am not saying that any such conclusion is necessitated by the scientific facts; only that on this subjective level where quantum physics created such cognitive dissonance for so many physicists, that this idea would make sense of it – to me

  4. I have considerable sympathy with the sentiments of the eastern mystics that logic is stultifying trap for human thought and consciousness. The result is that even if I found no other reasons to believe in a God or a spiritual side to reality and human existence I would very much see the need to fabricate them for the sake of our own liberty of thought. We need a belief in something transcendent in order for us transcend the limitations of logic and mundane (or material) reasons to give our uniquely human ability for abstraction more substance and life.

  5. I feel there are profound pragmatic reasons to reject the idea that reality is exclusively objective because it immediately takes any conviction about reality to a conclusion that the people who disagree with you are detached from reality and delusional or in some other way defective, I don’t believe that this is at all conducive to the values and ideals of a free society. The plain fact is that our direct contact with reality is wholly subjective and it is the objective which is the abstraction that has to be fabricated. Now I certainly think there is very good evidence that there is an objective aspect to reality but I see nothing to support taking this to the extreme of presuming that reality is exclusively objective.


Thank you Michell for sharing. I have heard many stories of how people have found their way to God through their intellect and it always makes me happy. My path was a much different one and it started at an early age. Growing up with an uncle as a priest and a dad as a deacon, I was confronted with many illogical beliefs that made me ask the simple simple question: “If God created this religion, why can’t the brain He gave me understand it?” I stopped going to the Catholic Church at 14 and visited every other denomination to fulfill my dad’s demand to “go to church on Sunday.”

It has taken me 44 years to be able to begin to articulate the journey I have been on. The intellectual model that I like to use is that God is the elephant and religions are the blind men, and only by understanding how the blind men’s point of view was created, can we start to put together the picture of God. The other important aspect to this intellectual model is there is an adversarial force in this world keeping the men blind. In other words, this adversary is weakened by man’s discovery of God.

This line of thinking then leads to the questions I pose when looking at those who the adversary destroyed. “What threat did Jesus pose? And which teachings were most threatening to the powers of this world?”


Interesting. I think our human condition is pretty transcendent already. The nature of our minds and consciousness sets us apart from the other animals though there is probably much in our experience of emotion which maps well with many mammals at least. Maybe what separates us is a basic intuition about just how far reaching that transcendence should be. For myself I expect something down to earth and finite. Nonetheless I also intuit ‘something more’ but I place the Other within the consciousness which produces me rather than outside of space and time. That just feels right to me, but I can’t expect it will for everyone else.

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I also explained in another thread how these reasons for belief connect up with what I believe. But instead of posting those again, I also thought that some people may find it more useful in understanding these reasons to see the intermediate step of showing how to get the the logical implications of those reasons for belief.

  1. For those who are not physicists this reason may not seem like a big deal because it is not like they look at the world in terms of mathematics anyway. But when it comes to the laws of nature, mathematics is the only way to describe them. So when a physicists says this mathematics cannot be the totality of reality then he saying that the laws of nature are not all there is to reality. It is a rejection of naturalism.
  2. What kind of God does best serve the purpose of supporting the existentialist faith that life is worth living. Well because life includes some horrible experiences, the existentialist faith is basically saying that no matter how horrible, these experiences have value. They give us something and we become more because of them. The theistic equivalent is to say that all the things in life are a gift of God to us and we grow by them. What does this say about God? That He is a part of our life and in a relationship with us and the fullest relationship would be with something that has at the very least all the same abilities and thus able to engage us most fully. I think there is no doubt as well that maximizing the value of life puts it in the context of an existence that continues to benefit from these experiences without end, and the God this points to is one whose gifts to enrich us likewise continue without end – an infinite God with no end to what He has to give.
  3. The physicist is pretty much trained to look for a perfect (increasingly accurate) mathematical description of reality. So when you expect the mathematics describing the laws of nature not to be the sum total of everything then you have to expect a failure of mathematics to do so at some point. That is basically what quantum physics is saying that physicists find so difficult. So this is not just about God having a hand in things but about the failure of naturalism in some sense. If you think there is more and it has any impact on our lives then somehow it has to show up in the mathematical description of reality – and it does in quantum physics.
  4. It is not logic itself which is so confining, because the fact is that where logic leads you depends entirely on the premises you start with. And so perhaps the real trap is only going with what can be known with absolute certainty. And so perhaps this business about escaping the trap of logic is really about comprehending the illusion of certainty. Thus we accept that life requires choices of faith.
  5. If reality is not exclusively objective then some of it is irreducibly subjective. It means that reality is not the same for everyone despite there being considerable overlap in those experiences we share. And if the above reasons point to a reality beyond the laws of nature – a supernatural, non-physical, or spiritual reality then the considerable diversity of thought with regards to these things strongly suggest that the irreducibly subjective aspect of reality and the spiritual supernatural aspect of reality are pretty much one and the same thing. But wait a minute? If God is real then isn’t that an objective reality? Not if experience of God depends upon something inside of you. In other words, it is not like looking at an object in nature with microscopes and other measurements of science, where everyone gets the same results, because in science what you believe is irrelevant. With God, what you want and believe is essential perhaps for the simple reason that God relates to us so completely that in some ways He is like a mirror – not just showing us as we are, but starting there in order to point to how we can become more.

I’m not sure it’s possible to do more than this during our lives as human beings. As soon as we start asking ontological questions, we’re down that big ol’ rabbit hole, and we need some sort of framework – “a reasonable theory,” as you call it – to help us sort all the questions we come up with.

I believe that because we’re all different from each other, our frameworks for understanding ourselves and God will be different, though we end up trying to describe similar feelings of humbleness and connection with Creation. The thinking processes are quite different but the inner feelings are the same, if that makes sense.

One interesting aspect of the Bible is that it offers a number of different perspectives and frameworks, so some Biblical narratives resonate with us and others don’t. I think God knows this and is okay with this.

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I spent a bit of time hunting up where I posted the connection of these reasons to what I believe, as I claimed, and found that here.

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I think the point you make about physical actions causing a reaction to the spiritual is not that simple. If in rejecting God, our spirit is left in a void and becomes confused, some think this is the ultimate sin. Can the spiritual side be restored then becomes a default position. Re-incarnation declares it moves on to the next chance in another life. The belief in demons, states the spirit can join in demonic activity. I’m sure there are a host of other beliefs.

How people in the past viewed it was God keeping a record in a book. This tends to paint our spirit as just a data gatherer, or angel that reports back to God. Your idea that the spirit has a beginning and grows is not that much different than a collection of data entries into a book. I guess in modern times a direct computer interface to a computer collecting data would not be too different. I guess it depends on how much “body” one wants to make this out to be. I think God created humans in a singular act, and they immediately had this spirit connection with God. Communication was immediate and two way. I guess humans were allowed their own thoughts and actions, and “down” time. As pointed out putting too much physical framework into the spiritual can lead to way too much speculation.

So going too far, in expecting the physical to over effect the spiritual may be the wrong way to view the spiritual connection. It seems more simple to just view it as a collection of facts about our lives. Now God has seemed to allow some humans more sway over what happens in the spiritual side of things. But I do not see God as being a control freak, nor reacting or over reacting like physical minded humans would do. Before the Flood it seemed there was a struggle in this direct relationship. I think Adam’s descendants including Noah and all of us after the Flood did loose the original connection with God. But describing it as a physical phenomenon does not work, because the connection is not physical but spiritual. Some point in a human’s fetal development the connection is placed there. The age when humans are aware of this connection differs for all, but after that awareness the choices they make become their own responsibility in maintaining that spiritual connection. It is not God’s responsibility. I think the function of God’s Holy Spirit is to let God restore the link like it was for Adam and the original humans. I think the physical may perceive this as a very huge burden and responsibility. We do not worship God only by choice. Upon full revelation of God, I think we loose all choice in the matter. That is why God declares that in God’s presence the physical is completely dead. It is too overwhelming and powerful. The Universalist will then step in and say eternal life is not up to us, that in essence all will be forced by God’s love to embrace God. Because the physical is not inclined to embrace God, only the spiritual. But the spiritual cannot act on it’s own behalf. The spiritual is still controlled by one’s own ability to choose.

What Adam did, allowed us NOT to be universalist, but to think and reason on our own accord. Universalist make the error, that the physical is naturally drawn to God. Now we have evolution giving us a reason that God via Adam gave us a connection to God. This is as far from the truth one can get, and negates totally what it is to be a son of God. Adam was a created being all on his own right to think and decide along with all other humans beings created with Adam on the 6th day. They were universalist in the utimate sense of what it means to be one. Not so after the Flood. Humans have to seek God out and not through their spiritual connection, because it is “broken” meaning it does not work the way it did before Adam disobeyed God. The only way to fully connect with God is to submit fully to the Holy Spirit. To accept eternal life is to accept the obedience of Jesus Christ as God dying and coming back to life. To live a life pleasing to God is not being selfish at all, but technically is not universalism as we think it is. Because the physical in and of itself, cannot be unselfish. There will always be one thing that God ask us to do that we cannot do, because it goes against our own physical makup. This has nothing to do with any objective laws or standards. Jesus is the only objective standard in God’s eyes when it comes to a physical standard. So what God demands is not one size fits all. It is either accepting what God offered in Jesus Christ and not our own physical ability or it is giving up that one thing that seems impossible for us to do. Does that put God’s demand to us as an impossibility? No, not necessarily. It depends on how possible the demand is and how far you want to take the universalist postion. If accepting Jesus is the only impossible thing one can hold as in the only choice they have left to obey God in, that may be the only point one is ultimately past a possible choice. I think the easiest choice is to just accept God’s plan, and avoid trying to figure out any physical choices that God is demanding of us. That would involve giving up the universalist view of life. On one hand God’s plan cannot be the only way, but on the other, it kinda is.

PS. If I am not fully representing what universalist hold, it is not deliberate. It is the general understanding that all humans will be brought back to God as in the beginning. As some point out the future is not set in stone, but basing a belief on speculation of a future event gives us absolutely zero information. At one point in the past humans had no choice but to be connected to and part of God’s spiritual existence. Imo, it was because the full experience of God is overwhelming and only from the physical does not seem practical. That is why God set it up for one man to be the deciding factor. I am sure there was more pressure involved than just trying to please Eve, whom Adam blamed. If we think that all humans at that time had a universal choice in the matter, it does not make sense to still give humans a choice not to become like Adam. There would not be a distinction between humans who are sons of God and who are not. Now we have been told that sons of God are just angelic beings. It removes humans from ever being responsible for their own condition. It is quite possible that we would have gods walking amoung us and constantly reminding us of our fallen condition even today. That would seem to cause even more resentment towards God, not less. The Jews seemed to hate Jesus so much they wanted him out of their lives, not hanging around showing off and constantly condemning them. Is that what Jesus did, or was it a false perception projected onto Jesus? But not even the sons of God could handle the burden of living a complete spiritual connection with God in the physical. In the end, universalist seem to want everyone willing to join God, but yet there will be those who are not forced to.

Your idea is not much different from legalism and reincarnation.

See, I can make pointless nonsensical groundless accusations too.

The contrast I made was between logical consequences and judgement. The latter is usually founded on an obedience driven theology designed to serve domination by religious power mongers, because they want control over people without interference from such things as intellectual or moral integrity.

The scientific evidence does not support significant effect of any non-physical puppetmasters on the physical. And I will be absolutely opposed to essentially pagan and Gnostic ideas of souls being inserted into bodies. The spirit growing from the physical is how Paul describes it and I will stand with that one as supremely more sensible than the ideas I have heard from you.

This is demonstrably incorrect! Both history and the Bible are full of examples of people having overwhelming encounters with God and they still disbelieve. Choice is definitely the dominant factor. You can prove to people that things will kill them and they will do them anyway.

No. I am not buying any of that magical nonsense for a second. Thinking and reasoning is the product of millions of years of evolution. Our freedom of will derives from the process of life using the laws of nature. There is no alchemical life-stuff or free-will stuff. It is a complex collection of many different functions working together learned by organisms over a very long long time. What changed with Adam was a much much simpler thing. First he was given a relationship with God who communicated with him and then he initiated a destructive habit which made that relationship untenable. And that is ALL, for everything else logically follows. Eternal life IS a relationship with God so destroying that relationship is a spiritual death.

Frankly, I am not sure why you are talking about univeralism at all. I am not a univeralist, are you?

How much of the physical dictates who or what God is?

None. There is a big difference between God creating the physical universe with its natural laws, and the physical world operating by those natural laws rather than by some spiritual agent.

God created the physical universe as a womb. The laws of nature were necessary for the self-organizing process of life so that beings could be brought into existence which were what they made of themselves rather than what God made them to be. They could be children with infinite potential the mirror image of God’s infinite actuality and perfect for an eternal relationship where there was no end to what God has to give and which we could receive.

To be sure He could simply create spiritual beings without all of that. And He did – they are called angels. But since these can never be other than what God made them to be, they will always be more like tools than children.

Universalism is debated to this day. A simple statement is that God wishes all to be saved, and as He has given His Son to be our saviour, the Faith traches that God’s will is done.

However sin is privation, so this separates us from God and we would not be saved. God would not force a sinner to repent. From this simplification, as Christians we would not comprehend how anyone would refuse the Good that is offered by God, so from this we may conclude that eventually a sinner would repent and be saved.

This is one line of reasoning - the final judgement can only be made by God as He knows what we are fully.

From a purely intellectual standpoint, God allowing suffering is Him giving us a chance to repent and come closer to Him, not forcing us. I cannot see any other reason for suffering, given that God is good. And the Good Father gives us many chances to repay our debts to the last farthing (Matt 5:21-26) and becoming perfect as He created us (Matthew 5:43-48).

Reincarnation (re-entering the womb as in John 3), is how God gives each and every soul the same chances, regardless of how short or painful one lifetime is. Fulfilling Jesus’ promise that He will not let one sheep be lost (Luke 15:4-5).

Reincarnation has never been considered within any orthodox doctrine.

Yes, but it is the only logical, intellectual way I can believe in a Good God and reconcile Matthew 5. This thread asked about my belief, not about church doctrine.
Best Wishes, Shawn

Understood as your personal belief, but it is not based on Biblical teachings. :grin:

It certainly is based firmly on biblical teachings as I have stated often in the Apocatastasis. It was not church doctrine until the 6th century AD.
Best Wishes, Shawn

My comment is directed at the notion you propose, that of reincarnation - this notion is not orthodoxy (nor biblically based).

It is also rather nasty and creepy. Children with old sinners crammed inside them? Sounds positively demonic. Horror movie stuff.

No… Jesus corrects this suggestion of Nicodemus (in jest) by explaining that being born again does not mean any such thing. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.”

I think the problem there is the trivial legalistic requirements you are imagining for salvation. You should read Matthew 19 again, salvation is NOT by getting it right as if by works, salvation is by the grace of God!

Your apocatastasis sounds like an annihilation of free will. Not to mention a terrible burden on the living… with no escape from evil people ever because those guys just keep getting sent back – hell on earth from that deranged way of doing things. And you think that kind of insanity is going to help people change for the better any more than we see improvements in people from going to prison?

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Dear Mitchell,
This is an intellectual thread, not an emotional one. Yes, the only way to achieve the kingdom of God is through Jesus, but this does not mean that Matthew 5 can be forgotten. Works alone cannot get you to Heaven, but you cannot get there without them.

What is your intellectual argument that explains the Grace of God for the billions that have lived without knowing Jesus - the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Moslems, and even the atheists? Is it fair that just because you had a Christian upbringing that you are saved, and the billions who did not perish? The Restoration of All Things is the only way I can intellectually justify being Christian, and at the same time justify the horrific lives that some people must live.

There are Christians here who do manage to address that - even if it is just to recognize that we are all alike in the hands of a loving God regardless of which of those clubs we fancy ourselves to be members of. And we invoke God’s grace without needing to embrace extra-scriptural notions such as reincarnation. If that is one of your intellectual requirements to make sense of Matthew 5, then I propose you need to do some more study. The sermon on the mount is an important passage to take in - and I have many times. Never once has reincarnation been needed to make sense of it.

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