Why I changed my mind

(Mervin Bitikofer) #241

Probably very few Christians would say that. Even just within theism there is discussion of multitudes of angelic spirits, or for the less pious side, demonic spirits or principalities or powers. And nor would all those nebulous or ill-defined things necessarily have be to all-inclusive.

I think the root of the problem is when God is thought to be “one of many…” in any category whether it be a category of physical demiurges flying our universe or a spiritual one (among many other peers) in a spiritual dimension. Either one fails to grasp the concept of “God”. There will be no peers for God; nor any foundations or laws that precede or limit. God is by definition the source of all. God doesn’t even fit a category of being like a “book” or even “an idea”. To begin to think of God as being in a set along with other finite items or beings is necessary, to be sure, if our minds will begin to at least orient toward a connection, but it is simultaneously going to be a point of failure to grasp God.

(John Dalton) #242

Sure, but we’re really talking about “universe explaining things” here, not your average spirit or what have you.

This seems to be a good summation of what you’re saying. This is a valid belief, but such statements don’t carry any weight if one is trying to argue that God logically explains our existence.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #243

That is right. God is not an explanation for phenomena so much as an underlying starting point for a person’s life of faith. It’s the job of science or other human endeavor to find physical explanations. It’s a confusion of some atheists (and some Christians too) to try to insert a god as just another hypothesized step in there somewhere. The God of Christianity is either in everything or else does not exist and therefore in nothing. Either way, neither science nor anything else will be finding Him as being more in one thing and by extension not in something else.

“Where can we go to hide from God?” the Psalmist asks rhetorically. The answer being … nowhere.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #244


John, John, John

Premise 1: God is the Source of all (reality.)

Premise 2: Humans are a part of reality.

Logical Conclusion: God is the Source of human existence.

Reality is not only physical. It is also rational and spiritual. The logical applies to the rational and the spiritual as well as the physical. Therefore the rational applies to God (spiritual) and humanity.

(Richard Wright) #245

Hello again T,

We seem to have impasses at 2 points. One is what can be considered, “evidence” for God. You seem to want to include only, scientific information, when most see other evidences outside of what science can discover. Two, the faith in humans to, “scientifically” determine how this universe got here.

The problem here is, a quantum vacuum is something. It has quantum fields parsing through it, run by the same laws of the universe that even Richard Dawkins says seemed to be, “fine-tuned for life” (The God Delusion). The question should be, “where did these laws come from?” Most honest, objective physicists would agree with the above sentiment. Krause rails against that view, saying that 100 years ago we would have called a vacuum, “nothing”, but we know more now than we did then.

This is not merely my opinion. Objective, honest scientists of all philosophical stripes agree that science will never find out how the universe got here, because it can only study the universe.

It seems you misunderstand about half the things I write. I never said that it is impossible that something other than God could create the universe. I said, as I stated above, that it’s impossible for us to discover, “scientifically” how the universe started, because we operate in spacetime and have no way of testing models outside of spacetime.

I do apologize if I misrepresented your view. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but if you (or anyone) don’t positively exclude God, then you leave open the possibility that God exists, is that correct?

I agree that this is the crux of the question. The data to process that we all can agree on is:

  • A life-producing universe

Data that most in history would say needs to be processed as well is the following:

  • A sense of destiny

  • A sense of eternity

  • A sense of purpose

  • A sense of the spiritual, something outside of the physical

  • The desire be connected to their creator/divine

  • A sense that the experience that this life offers in this world/universe demands answers

Again, the above aren’t posited as evidences that prove God. They are the data that most people process when concluding that there exists God/divinity.

You would respond that God needs an explanation. But so would anything else. So, if you would be gracious enough to concede that a belief in God is as logical as anything else, (which you have already pretty much have done, come to think of if), then maybe we can move on to the next debate.

(Richard Wright) #246

Hello John,

What most people mean by, “God” is the God of the bible, and that is an eternally existing spiritual entity. That’s why people say God is a spiritual. There is no physical element involved.

OK, let’s see what we’re considering here. The universe is something that is ~100 billion light-years end to end. It consists of, by the latest estimate, 200 billion galaxies, each one with 10 million to 1 trillion stars. And this entity found out how to produce intelligent, conscious life. So whatever produced this universe is unimaginably powerful in the very least, and to many of us, that intelligent as well.

Along with that, there are other factors that most people fit into the thought process when considering how we got here, that I’ve listed on other posts in this thread. They are basically the sense of good, justice, purpose, destiny, eternity, and something beyond the physical. In addition, beauty, order, complexity and rationality. So we expect the creator, whatever it is, to be essentially good, and would want to give us answers as to why we are here. Jesus has done that. These other entities, whether they be physical, spiritual or a combination thereof, have not.

You could (and probably would) say, “well, we don’t know what got us here. Maybe it was God, maybe something else, we just don’t know”. Fine. But look at the alternatives. A UPE needs an explanation for its existence and how it produced such a large and ordered universe. If a spiritual or semi-spiritual thing got us here, why didn’t it reach out to humans to help them? Maybe you don’t see the universe as demanding answers, but the vast in history have. So for most humans who have ever lived, God is by far the most logical conclusion to the data we given us in this universe.


Purpose implies intention and secondary outcomes are possible in many scenarios.

(John Dalton) #248

If you start with this premise, there’s no point to a discussion about God being the source of anything in particular. It seems to me Richard is not making this assumption. He has said that he is using logic in order to reach such a conclusion.


Thanks. I understand this, but you never know.

I see this as two entirely different questions. The existence of matter and the universe being one, and the eventual emergence of life within reality being a subordinate (and far less inexplicable) question.

I’m not so sure. I said before it must be inconceivable, and what you say may well be true, but I’m not sure that such parameters, which people typically use to imagine it, are even meaningful in the context.

I’ve seen your posts. I don’t think any of those are necessary if we’re talking about the existence of reality. They’re certainly relevant to our human existence, but there are ways of explaining them that don’t require any kind of unimaginable creator, in the way that the very existence of matter and the universe do.

Based on what I said above, it seems to me that you’ve let a presupposition slip into your argument. If you think those things are necessary parts of reality (or however you might like to put it) than by definition you require a creator that explains those things. To me, things like good, etc are (in short) part of human perception. Explaining them is not something on the same level as explaining the very existence of reality.

Sounds reasonable to me :slight_smile:

Fine. But look at the alternatives. A UPE needs an explanation for its existence and how it produced such a large and ordered universe.

Sure. But here’s the core of my argument–so does an “UNE”–unexplained non-physical entity :slight_smile: God, anything else we might think of, and as far as I can tell any non-physical universe-explaining thing that might exist qualify as such. I can certainly understand believing that God exists, and you’ve given many reasons here for such a belief, but I don’t see how God’s existence, even if eternal etc., has been explained . I might even go so far as to use a phrase you used earlier about an eternal universe, and call it a “cosmic accident” with regards to the way the idea is generally presented.

If a spiritual or semi-spiritual thing got us here, why didn’t it reach out to humans to help them?

You’re getting pretty far into theology here.

Maybe you don’t see the universe as demanding answers, but the vast in history have.

While the need for answers may not be vital, I agree that many people want or even demand answers. But that doesn’t mean that we have the answers.

So for most humans who have ever lived, God is by far the most logical conclusion to the data we given us in this universe.

There’s that equivocation again. If you mean logical in the sense of reasonable (as “most logical” must mean), I probably won’t contest you. Logical as in “the only logical non-physical possibility” is another matter, which I don’t believe can be demonstrated to be true. To be clear, I’m not denying that you can use logic or logical thought processes in reaching the conclusions that you have.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #249

I’ve changed my mind again. My current beliefs are probably something akin to a modernised version of Second Temple Judaism. Meaning I follow the Old Testament, (I love meditating on wisdom literature) perhaps with some syncretism with Hellenistic philosophy (Philo of Alexandra is probably my main influence) but I’m not exactly there yet in believing that Jesus rose from the dead (maybe give me time). I also find there are discrepancies in the NT and signs that Jesus may have been an apocalyptic preacher. I still have nothing but respect for the Christian Faith and its effects on Western civilisation. As far as I’m aware of I don’t have any Jewish ancestry, though I do have Aegyptiote Greek ancestry, so there may be a link there.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #250

Are you familiar with NT Wright’s argument in The Resurrection of the Son of God? It’s not your average Josh McDowell fare; it’s an erudite argument from the history of religion. Even if you don’t read the whole magisterial 800-some-odd-page book, it’s good to be familiar with its broad strokes. For me it was instrumental in bringing me back from the brink of agnosticism.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #251

I’ll check it out


I think that is an accurate statement. I require evidence to be verifiable and independent, but not everyone shares my viewpoint.

Then that is the something that physicists are proposing as a possibility for the origin of the universe. I see no reason to quibble over semantics if we can both agree that this is what physicists are talking about.

There are other scientists who think that we can figure out how this universe came about. It seems a unreasonable to base an argument on the idea that science will never figure something out, and then in that invented area of ignorance insert a supernatural deity to fill in as an explanation. 400 years ago you could have said that no one will ever figure out how lightning is produce, therefore Thor is the best explanation.

For myself, I wouldn’t call that data. I would call those points a list of beliefs which themselves need to be supported through a logical argument, if we are trying to produce a logical argument. And I will echo what I and others have stated before, if we are talking about beliefs, religious or otherwise, then that has a whole other set of standards. I am not here to tell you what you should believe, or how you should arrive at those beliefs. All I am looking at is what would be needed to construct a logical argument using the rules of logic that were first worked on by Plato.

I have already said that I don’t know how the universe started. This puts all explanations on the same footing, including supernatural explanations. I don’t see any explanation for the origin of the universe having compelling evidence, so I withhold judgment on all of them.

You would respond that since we have no scientific explanation this would mean that supernatural explanations are the most reasonable. I don’t see why this is. I could just as easily say that you have no evidence for supernatural explanations, so natural explanations are the most reasonable. Both arguments lack solid logical foundations.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #253


What most people mean by, “God” is the God of the bible, and that is an eternally existing spiritual entity. That’s why people say God is a spiritual. There is no physical element involved.


The problem with that statement is that it is flat out wrong. The God of the Bible is the Source of all that is physical. The God of Greek philosophy is not physical, so maybe you and others have confused the two.

Logic provides a logical conclusion, but if the premises are wrong, the conclusion is wrong. With my statement the premises and the conclusion is correct. You might not agree with them, and nothing is necessary in this world, but is the best of human knowledge.

Both arguments lack solid logical foundations._

No so. God is by definition “eternal, all powerful, and all wise.” Nature is by definition finite and unable to think. It is therefore logical that God could create the universe, but Nature cannot create itself. It is not self existent, based on Einstein’s Theory.


Leprechauns are by definition the creators of rainbows. Therefore, the observation of rainbows leads to the logical conclusion that they are created by Leprechauns.

Do you consider that to be a logical argument?

Huh? Care to cite any physics book or paper that states this?


He was certainly an “apocalyptic preacher,” but it’s possible that by “apocalyptic” the NT authors might not mean what you think they mean…


N.T. Wright is the bomb. I’m just coming to the end of his double-tome on Paul.

(Richard Wright) #257

Hello Roger,

Of course God created the physical. I only meant that God Himself is not physical - John 4:24,
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

(RiderOnTheClouds) #258

What do you mean?


We tend to think of “apocalypse” in terms of “end of the world” or “total destruction.” N.T. Wright points out that a 1st-century preacher (like Jesus or Paul) would have both understood “apocalyptic” to mean:

  1. Revelation (it is basically the Greek word for “revelation,” not “destruction”).
  2. Preaching/predicting a new “eschaton” - not so much an “end of the world” fulfillment of prophecy, but the inauguration of the “age to come,” almost paradoxically overlapping the present world. Particularly for Paul, the resurrection of Jesus signaled the arrival of the “age to come,” which did not, in Jewish eschatology, necessitate the “destruction of the world.”

So if by “apocalyptic preacher” you mean “one that anticipated the end of the of the world,” then you probably off.

But if by “apocalyptic preacher” you mean “one that expected and predicted the ‘age to come’ (and all that that means),” then you’d be right on.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #260

But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. … Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." (Mark 13:24-27, 30)

The last time I checked, the stars never fell from the sky in the decades following the life of Christ. Even if this is to be construed as symbolic language, it is language symbolic of something destructive and cataclysmic.