Which Faith Questions Bug You?

The science fiction in this thread has been expanding. I not only like science fiction but wrote a trilogy (not published) so that is cool. But I am also a physicist and like to be clear about the difference between entertainment and reality.

The notion that there are no other universes is equally speculative. I don’t know what religion you are, but in Christianity, God is the creator of this universe… the subjective explanation as it were. Therefore to claim that this universe is sufficient to contain the whole of reality doesn’t make any sense in that context. No other universes are absolutely required in Christianity – I will agree with you only that much. But the description of John 14:2 might suggest otherwise and I certainly believe the spiritual existence is far more vast than the physical universe with the obvious possibility of more universes.

The religion of Pythagoreanism, then?

By “once called atoms” are you referring to the elemental particles? But the description of these as things moving through the void isn’t right.

Space is part of a space-time manifold. It is certainly not well described as a fixed set of points. this is some pretty antiquated notions you have here.

This is even more incorrect. This Euclidean understanding of space time as a motion picture film of instants strung together is a intuitive common sense understanding based on living in such a small portion of the universe. But the structure of space-time is locally Minkowski which is very different than this.

Terry Pratchett writes novels about a flat world sitting on the back of three elephants standing on a turtle. When an antiquated notion of how things are doesn’t fit with measurable evidence then there is nothing wrong with inventing fantasy worlds based on the concept. But it cannot change the fact that it doesn’t fit the measurable evidence.

Not as an approximation for life on earth. But it certainly doesn’t work for the any larger scale analysis of things… not even when you are working with satellites orbiting the earth for GPS.

There are more dimensions in reality than the few we know here, so there can be physicalities in existence that we do not know – the angelic and demonic realm, for instance. But that does not mean that there cannot be pure spirit with no physical dimensionality. That is what God is, pure spirit, because possessing dimensionality is intrinsically limiting.

I would be interested, @Terry_Sampson and @mitchellmckain, in which faith questions you think would be great for today’s generation to discuss in a church or college apologetics class. Which ones do you think bother people the most? As Rachel Held Evans said, if you think God is unjust, you don’t really want to find Him. Is there a way to communicate to the Greeks as a Greek, to the Jews as a Jew? What do you think is most important?

you both have lots of experience in apologetics. and I’d be interested in reading what you think. Thanks.

Maybe this very interesting discussion of spirit vs material and multiverses would be better on a spinoff thread, @moderators? Thanks.

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@Randy, great question! What do you see as the purpose of apologetics? Myself, I wonder what apologetics can really communicate if we have the wrong sort of expectations. Are apologetics supposed to “prove” anything? Or just provide evidence that addresses certain questions to show that there is reason enough to consider certain claims to be true? It seems to be problematic when we try to set up apologetics to prove anything, when there always seems to be valid reason to doubt a certain claim without an experience of encountering God, so I’m also interested in relevant questions/apologetics issues. I look forward to reading more of the ideas put out :slight_smile:

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I think that’s a great point. It’s almost impossible to prove anything–it’s more of a way to clear away difficulties. I think that’s what Randal Rauser mostly discussed in his video. Thanks.

Thanks for the input :slight_smile: What I’m not sure I can agree with Rauser about with certainty is that people are either a) already accepting of the idea of God or b) seem to be naturally inclined to think it’s absurd, simply because I don’t know all the humans. But they are helpful categories, and I think apologetics has to be for the audience. Where I do agree with Rauser is that Craig’s packaged apologetics system, like many others, are about the concerns of some in the former category. They seem to be apologetics packages that give all the answers so no further questions are needed. However, wherever we happen to be on our faith/belief journey requires openness to deal with different issues, and to revisit them, and even interact with them at different lengths depending on where we’re at. For starters, I do really like the alternative questions that Rauser has. They’ll probably look different among individuals and I think churches/leaders/disciples need to be prepared and willing to deal with the questions as they come, patiently, instead of attempting to deal with everything completely with just a book or course, which I’ve seen often.

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  • Sorry, … I acknowledge and affirm the existence of angelic and demonic entities, so you’re not suggesting anything new to me or that I would reject, although I’m not sure whether or not you and I agree what “physicalities” refers to. At this time, I would suppose that they would have mass and, therefore, be physical, substantial, material, real, and–consisting of parts–would be compressible or stretchable.
  • “That there are more dimensions in reality than the few we know here” is–I believe–theoretical, … and hypothetical. In other words, IMO, one is skating on “thin ice” when claims: “There are more dimensions than the few we know here”. We Haven’t Been Zapped Out Of Existence Yet, So Other Dimensions Are Probably Super Tiny
  • Note: the linked article says " there’s the mind-bending possibility that many more dimensions exist out there. According to string theory, one of the leading physics model of the last half century, the universe operates with 10 dimensions. Cool! “Mind-bending possibilities” are often fun and make great sermon-material. “in essence dimensions five through ten have to do with possibility and include all possible futures and all possible pasts including realities with a totally different physics than those in our universe.” Neat! I may have more than on past to be ashamed of, regret, and do penance for.
  • Ooops! Wait a minute! How many dimensions could there be? 10? 11? 12? 26?

In my four dimensional world (3 spatial and 1 temporal), I’m able to talk about two categories: Something and Nothing. If you want to talk about a third category which is neither Something or Nothing, knock yourself out. But you’re going to have to do a fancy dance to impress me, much less convince me.

So, …you think my infinite, eternal universe is “intrinsically limiting”?
Screenshot_2021-04-03 twitbiblio on Twitter This or that questions, Funny emoji, Smiley

Yep. No one is going to buy it. :grin:

You know, the more I think about it, the more of this does fit in with accommodation. If Jesus had simply disappeared on Earth, in the disciples mentality, that might mean that he would be a ghost. They always associate heaven, or the place of God, with up. They did not know that meant such a directions we would think of it. So, that’s even similar to accommodation with the creation story and some of Genesis, I think. Good point. Thanks

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Do ya’ Google much?

Oh look…

Muffled screams from my “Ignore” list?

And you thought I meant literally no one.

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Divine hiddenness is a big question for me. Some have said it’s prideful to expect God to be provable, but imagine the scenario of a boy who has never seen his father. He hears all about him, and even reads books that talk about him. However, he has never had any concrete evidence of him, and longs to meet him face to face. Is that not a good thing to desire?

Chris Rice’s song "Smell the Color 9" illustrates that for me.
"I can sniff, I can see, I can count up pretty high,
But these faculties aren’t getting me any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps pounding,
So I know I’m doing fine
But sometimes finding you
Is just like trying to
Smell the color 9
Nine’s not a color
And even if it were, you can’t smell a color.
That’s my point exactly

Here is a podcast someone on this site recommended to me. The linked episode discusses relationship with God. It made me think of this problem; it’s quite interesting. Thanks.
‎Recovering Evangelicals: #42 – “Personal relationship” on Apple Podcasts

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If there is a GOD and He manifests his presence to us, we should be able to discern his presence as uniquely his compared to other living beings we know. IOW, GOD would most likely be pretty amazing and powerful and knowledgeable. He might reveal himself by whispering to our souls that He cares about the secret things of the heart that no one else knows.
“I had waited for time to change her. The only change that came was over me.” That isn’t in any hymnal. But, GOD used those words from a secular song in the middle of the night long ago to tell me that He knew exactly where I had been. It was He who was changing me and freeing me from the tentacled grasp of forces too much for me. He was near to me in my brokenness and just that, just knowing that, He really and truly was healing me. ME, What a thrill that was and it has never left. GOD loved me, tenderly, enormously, incredibly,

Watch Anastasia with Yul Brynner. Watch what happens when all hope is gone and a cough.

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I like the lyrics to that song.

Maybe everything said of the ineffable is at best a distortion and at worst a lie. You can’t smell what has no smell. Can you expect to have a face to face with that which has no face?

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Yes, that’s one for me too. Especially how experiences of God are so uneven. In general, I’m bugged more by relational issues than ones dealing with Scripture and interpretation. Another one for me is why the change Jesus makes in people and communities isn’t as obvious as I’d expect.

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I think He too was disappointed at times. ‘I healed 10 and only one of you has thanked me?’
Another perspective focuses on how much worse someone’s character flaws would be without the changes wrought by the divine, instead of dwelling on all the blatant shortcomings
i hate hiddenness. C S. Lewis offered Screwtape the advice a senior devil should give to his subordinate: test him (the young believer) to give up when all the positive feelings have dried up and he wonders why he could have ever believed God existed. Make him suspect it was all in his imagination. This is very important. If he survives this long period of drought spiritually, he will be much harder to temp in the future.’

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A big question for a lot of people. One of the biggest question asked by atheists.

Not such a huge question for me. Not one I ever struggled with. My approach to the question of God never went in that direction. Mine started with, what could the word “God” possibly be talking about. It was pretty obvious from the beginning this was nothing like an animal running around or a star in the sky, where of course you we expect to see such a thing in order to believe in it. So I guess answers to this question of the so called “hidden-ness” of God seemed pretty obvious to me from beginning. When I was looking for God, I wasn’t looking for a new animal running around or a new star in the sky.

Very poor answer to the question. In fact that is the kind of answer you expect if the whole thing is nothing but a con. So hearing such an answer only makes it more difficult to believe.

Sure. So the what would you say if the father answered this desire by painting himself head to toe with all different colors, put on a huge bulky elephant costume and dressed the costume in a clown outfit and then used used a synthesized voice to make a video to send to the boy?

Which, of course, is pretty much the same point your quoted song is making.

Obviously we would want to know Him as He is, and not some fabricated image – which frankly has already been tried many times with dubious results. Right?

So what are the obvious answers, which made this question not much of a problem for me?

  1. So my first working definition of “God” was the equivalence between a faith that life is worth living and a faith in God. Well… that directly connects God with the whole of life… with EVERYTHING we experience and not some small part of it. For that definition to work we would have to see God in our entire experience of life as a whole.

  2. An immediate corollary of number 1 is that God is not hidden at all, but rather the opposite of hidden. And if we don’t see Him it is like not seeing the forest for the trees. (Which is not to be confused with the pantheist view which equates God with the universe, see below)

  3. The above definition of God quickly leads to the understanding of God as infinite, the source of eternal life. But then how could you ever see God in His entirety? We shall always be looking at God in rather small doses and it will take all of eternity to see the whole of Him.

  4. Then there is the notion of God as spirit, which for me means non-physical – not a part of the space-time mathematical structure of the universe by which science and the objective knowledge of things is even possible.

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In his case apparently He failed to impress anyone. If He was really divine, should his face have been marred more than anyone’s in all of history as they claimed about him. How did He spend the first 30 years of his life in total anonymity if He was who they claim? Wouldn’t someone have questioned his identity as He went about his day to day living perfectly?

Thanks for your response. The point of the song is the frustration we have with not actually seeing God. You might want to see the whole lyrics to understand better

I’m intrigued by your impression of God’s existence. Thanks.

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Yeah… LOL It isn’t it interesting how I leapt from what it was saying to the conclusion that it was making the same point. …such are the grooves we have carved in our own mind…

Oh… and rather than reading all the lyrics I just listened to the song. :smile:

…and from it I feel like he might have had thoughts somewhat similar to mine.

guess we would have to ask him.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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