Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays on religion.
I read with great interest your essays regarding God, the Bible and religion. As a Christian I disagree with many of your premises. As one with an open mind, I also see some truth in what you have written.
I believe the problem with Christianity and perhaps all religion, is we, as humans, believe we are right. Consequently, facts become skewed and unclear because of our own rhetoric.
I have faith in God because I have proven him. Various places in the Bible actually suggest that we prove God. I have done so and have received reasonable proofs that God’s part of the test were fulfilled. Perhaps it was coincidence, but I choose to believe that the quantity, quality and timeliness of the results dictate otherwise.
These proofs are always personal. They convince the experiencer with the extremes of feeling. They don’t seem in the least convincing to an outsider. From my personal experience, I know that unimaginably intense experiences are possible, not necessarily connected to God.
To say that Christianity is false because the Bible has inconsistencies is shortsighted.
It is the Christians who have made a preposterous claim that the Bible is especially true because it is the word of God. I have merely shown that is nonsense. The creator of the universe could not have written the Bible, or he would not have got all the details wrong. The Bible has to stand on equal footing with any other piece of literature written my man to be judged for truth or utility. The claim it has special truth despite all appearances is bogus.
Not all Christian faiths believe the Bible to be inerrant. I for one do not believe the story of Job, Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel, at least as commonly accepted. The story of Job is perhaps the greatest of all pep talks for anyone who suffers. The Noah’s Ark story is supported by science if you accept the fact that perhaps the flood was of a particular region. When a Bible author describes the world, what world was he speaking of? To accept or understand such writings, one has to return to that period of time in mind and thought. It was a different world then. It is possible to have inconsistencies without throwing the whole thing out.
Many Christians have backed down from the original inerrancy position, forced there by logic. I am quite prepared to look at the Bible as the myths that shape Christian culture, but I am not prepared to believe preposterous stories without collaboration.
On the other hand, how does one explain the perfect order of things?
This perfect order is an illusion. Consider for example how human hips are not properly designed for upright motion. The birth canal is not designed to handle a huge baby’s head without tearing. We have three brains, that work at cross-purposes. Tent caterpillars and locusts strip the land bare. Babies are born in Africa already infected with HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus). They are soon orphaned as their parents die. Then they die themselves. Where is the perfect order in that?
The variety of living things. The beauty and color. How nature works in perfect harmony. Seasons. Innate animal instincts. I only have a finite human mind, but I sense that some supreme creator created this world, the heavens and so forth. This creator used physical laws that man has just begun to understand.
This universe is a very big place. Seasons are just a side effect of imperfectly circular orbits and imperfectly oriented rotations. On those few places that fluke out to support life, there we are to appreciate and wonder at the fluke of it all, even if we are one planet in a billion billion. We don’t amaze at the other billion billion that got it wrong.
This creator is bound by physical laws, as they, like him are perfect. This creator has put all of this in place and allows it to flow and storm and destroy and build, and grow. Sure, the holder of the law can control, but does he (no assumption being made)? Does the creator arbitrarily interfere? Most often not. Especially in the actions of man, the creator appears to stand back, allowing us to make stupid decisions and live through the consequences. Can he save? Surely! Can he heal? Surely! Why does he not intervene?
I have not see any evidence of the creator intervening. Otherwise I can scarcely imagine an oil tycoon making it to president of the USA when the world is threatened with global warming, dwindling petroleum reserves and air and water pollution. Where was God in the Nazi gas chambers with people praying as they never prayed before? Where is God in those cases of childhood leukemia where the kid does not pull through?
I define God as the creator of the universe, whatever/whomever that may be. God does not seem to have the tiniest interest in my life or any other human life. Despite press to the contrary, I have never seen any evidence he ever pays the tiniest bit of attention to our petitions. He may hear them, but he never acts on them. It is a waste of time waiting for God to do for you what only you can do for yourself.
Again and again we find the mysterious is not so mysterious after all. Today man created a polio virus from scratch. A very short time ago most people would have believed only god could create life.
It is his world, universe and creation. His ways often seem strange to me. However, I see the creator in his creation. I see the creator in other humans. I see the creator in the tree across the way. I see the creator in the rock that forms the barrier between my property and the property of my neighbor. Is the creator rock? No! Is the creator man? No! The creator is God, a race perhaps that we cannot comprehend because it has not been revealed to us. Perhaps as humans, we could never understand. But creation screams that there is a creator. Whether I can understand him, draw him, makes no difference.
Someone claiming to be the creator has come forward. Has stood up and said: look at me! Test me! Try me! I have. I have performed experiments not dissimilar to what you have described. A piece of scripture I favor suggests that any thing will grow inside of us if it is of value. To know the truth however, we must have the desire to know the truth. We must be willing to submit to the rules associated with knowing whether the thing is true. Once we submit, if the thing grows, it exists. If not, it does not. I have tried and tested and experimented and have come to the personal knowledge that God does exist. I cannot prove it by the Bible, I cannot prove it with artifacts, I cannot prove it in anyway dissimilar to the thing that it is.
To me this still sounds like wishful thinking, reading patterns into the clouds or in the dying fire embers. Does it not strike you as odd that fervent Christians nearly always were taught to be that way from the cradle, before they were old enough to reason and that all the non-Christians were not exposed to this indoctrination. Without the indoctrination, the Bible itself is flat and unconvincing. God comes off as a buffoon, much less awe-inspiring than the scientific description of the creation.
It is a shame that mankind kills, penalizes, abuses, discards and mistreats other men for their beliefs, religious or otherwise.
Tolerance is the key to happiness, whether you’re talking about a relationship among two, or millions. However, discrimination is not exclusive to religion. It is found in any organization, tribe if you will. Such discrimination has existed since the beginning of time, as exhibited by club-produced holes in the skulls of ancient man. It is organization, the tribal extinct innate to man, that breeds discrimination and contempt. Period. To strengthen the tribe, we destroy our neighbor. In destruction we believe we grow. Perhaps it is true. Many claim that forest fires are the best way to grow healthy forests. It is the creator’s way.
If you keep score, Christians have killed many more atheists than the reverse. Atheism does not automatically impart ethical behaviour, e.g. the Communist Chinese deplorable actions in Tibet. On the other hand, they don’t have the same sense of divine rightness about their evil deeds.
Thanks for voicing your views. Thanks for reading mine.
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