More religion: faith vs. blind faith

Here is my main problem with almost all modern religions: They require faith in something that has shown you absolutely no solid evidence of it’s existence. Here’s the arguments I expect and how I refute them:

Miracles: I have never witnessed a miracle, and more often the things that happen are completely expected. In the occasional case of the unexpected, it can always be chalked up to details in the circumstances (i.e. if the bullet had hit one inch to the left, the victim would have died, but it didn’t because the shooter slipped. That’s not anything spectacular, just coincidence.)

Creation: I know it falls under the miracle category. Anyways, there’s not solid physical evidence here either. I can listen to theories all day long, but when push comes to shove, the idea of non-living materials gaining life-like qualities and eventually developing into bacteria, cells, organisms, and so on. It’s far fetched, but it’s SOMETHING.)

Now, the real point of the post: Why doesn’t God show us something that is irrefutible (sp?) evidence of his existence? I know that if I witnessed something truly miraculous that I could not possibly deny was the work of God, I would have true faith for the rest of my life. As it is now, I do not. What’s the difference between being faithful to something you truly know (I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow morning and set tomorrow evening) and having blind faith in something you have never even seen or heard from? If there is no difference, why no miracle to gain faith from the disbelievers?

**

That would be the definition of faith. See a dictionary.

See the above.

Why don’t quarks show us something that is irrefutable evidence of their existence?

In my mind, both questions are the same.

This probably, is not going to be what you want, because I can only relay what the Bible says.

When Jesus was on the Earth, he did lots of miracles, in front of lots of people. The ones who wanted to believe did, and the ones who didn’t want to, chalked those miracles up to something else. Even now, when people are healed in the name of Jesus, for example, folks tend to say it was a mindpower thing. So miracles don’t bring about faith at all. God, at different times has used different people to perform miracles. Kathryn Kulhman, Smith Wigglesworth, and Oral Roberts to name a few. If we acknowledge them as being servants of God or not, is a choice we make. Kathryn Kuhlman had a radio show that was on in the 1950’s and I think into the early 60’s. I mean mainstream radio. She was widely known to those who cared, for miracles. Every town she went in, MANY would be healed. Smith Wigglesworth even reported raisings of the dead in his ministries. So there have been miracles in this day.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God performed miracles daily. Big ones. The people still were full of unbelief and disobedience.

For some reason though, God reveals himself mostly in small ways. And he wants us to look for Him. He reveals Himself to the humble, to the oppressed, to the weak, “the Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit”. His way has never been to make a big show, to force Himself on us. Instead He draws us subtley, and quietly. He doesn’t overwhelm us with outward stuff. Which is why many find Him when they are at a “low point”, or in some kind of great need.

You have to be very careful about miracles anyway. The Bible seems to say in the last days many will be deceived by some who are practicing miracles. Not all miracles will be from God. Which is probably another reason He doesn’t make it a common practice.

I think I feel the same way for the most part as you do, Ooner. He supposedly loves you, and wants you to be in heaven with Him, and not in hell, but then He leaves you in the world with no evidence for him but some dubious hearsay. I’ve summed it up as “He loves you, but not enough to tell you in person.” I think this is fair, seeing as how I am held much more rigid standards by my girlriend. <-- Joke alert in case jmullaney drops in :wink:

Does anybody else find this odd? God reveals himself to those who are broken hearted, oppressed and weak…seems fishy to me. So why only these people, why not the stong people who could do greater good for everyone? Why not reveal himself to leaders and so forth? Maybe there is another reason? Maybe it is not divine after all…

More than likely the reason God “reveals” himself to these people is because they are weak willed and need something in there life to give aim and lead them. Something to cast fault on if someone dies or a tragedy occurs or such since they are to weak to stand up to it and deal w/ it realisticlly? When weak people are in pain or in need, they require someone else to provide for them since they cannot do so on their own. It gives the weak hope and faith that some grand entity is taking care of them and looking out for them, when in reality those people cannot look out for them self.

For example: say Billy is intoxicated and driving his car. He veers off the road and runs into the side of a building go 65mph. Billy is most definitely dead. But Johnny, Billy’s younger brother believes it is a sign from God. Johnny to drinks and drives and he will come around to say that God took Billy to heaven to teach him that it is wrong and he should change his ways. So he changes his ways. Some of you will be thinking this proves your point, that this is a good example of how God does good. Now for your reality check: Billy was a drunken moron who was stupid enough to drive around w/ a blood alcohol level of 1.89. Billy, like most drunk drivers do, crashes and kills himself. God did not make this happen, Billy did. Johnny, being weak willed himself, will not be able to accept the fact that his brother was incompetent since doing so would be to close to the truth about his brother AND himself. So a divine entity comes into play to take the blame.

So what is the moral of this rant: the weak need something to blame and take care of them, the strong are grounded in reality and able to take care of themselves.

And I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you…

Why is it that you’ve only listed Christian miracles, Randy? Surely you are aware of the tons of Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic miracles that exist, right? I mean, when Mohammed was on Earth, he did all sorts of miracles. Those who wanted to believe, did. Those who didn’t chalked it up to something else.

What about Jesus’ contemporaries, like the Egyptian or Honi the Circle Drawer? Do you believe that they actually performed miracles, or do you “chalk it up to something else”?

Do you think that statues of Ganesha actually drink milk, and that images of the Virgin Mary appear in trees, or do you chalk it up to something else?

Whatever reason you give for rejecting non-Christian miracles, wouldn’t you agree that that reason is just as valid for others to reject Christian miracles?

I mean, people raised from the dead? Where are the doctors? Where are the news reports? Why hasn’t anyone claimed Randi’s million dollar prize? Why does all of this sound no more impressive than Uri Geller’s magic tricks or Peter Popoff’s b.s.?

In case you’re wondering, here’s what I think of the Biblical miracles:

NT:
Jesus’ followers believed that he was the Messiah. The gospels, written decades after his death by people who never knew him, are based upon that belief. The OT (and rabbinical tradition) contains some explicit descriptions of exactly what the Messiah would do. The evangelists, knowing in their heart of hearts that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, wrote stories of him doing just that. They didn’t consider this lying. After all, if Isaiah says that the Messiah will make the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk, and since I know that Jesus is the Messiah, he must have done just that, so there’s nothing wrong with me writing a story to that effect. And, since the Messiah will be greater than all of the OT prophets, he must do everything that they did, but bigger! If Elisha fed 100 with 20 loaves of bread, then Jesus can feed 5000 with 5 loaves of bread!

OT:
People were upset with the priestly caste, who got large portions of their money for little work. Furthermore, the caste was entirely hereditary, so everyone knew that if your Dad wasn’t a priest, you could never hope to be one either. The priests had a tradition of Aaron being set aside by God as a priest, replete with miracles and wonders. People started wondering “If God did a bunch of miracles in the past, why doesn’t he do any more? If God spoke to Moses and Aaron personally, why doesn’t he speak to anyone any more?” So the priests decided to make up some stories about how the people had disbelieved even when God did reveal himself and perform miracles. Then, they could tell the people “Look: God used to show his face every day, but people worshipped other gods and disobeyed anyway. So he decided to hide his face from us. That’s why you don’t see any miracles anymore.” This was obviously a pretty good technique, as evidenced by the fact that apologists 3000 years later are still using it!

Other miracles:
I chalk the miracles of people like Kathryn Kulhman, Smith Wigglesworth, and Oral Roberts (Oral Roberts?! You’ve got to be kidding me!) down to exaggeration, distortion, and overactive imaginations. I’ve never seen a verified miracle by them or anyone else. I’ve heard tons of hearsay, urban legends, and second-hand testimonies, but never something like medical documentation of a man who had lost an arm in the war, but had it spontaneously grow back due to prayer.

One more quick point:

Isn’t it interesting how God only performs miracles in the presence of True Believers ™? From the Bible right up to modern apologists, we learn that one must have faith in order to witness a miracle: “For those with faith, no proof is necessary. For those without faith, none is ever enough” or some such nonsense.

This is very reminiscient of psychics who tell their clients that one must believe in order to have one’s mind read, communicate with the dead, etc. Skeptics give off “negative brain waves” which prevent testing or ruin an experiment. In other words: Believe, and then you’ll see the evidence. Of course, once you already believe, it’s easy for the mind to misremember, exaggerate, or just plain invent evidence in order to substantiate those beliefs.

Good posts, Opus; good analysis.

Ooner (and mabybe muppetsoup)-- Sounds like you don’t believe (don’t have faith), but wish you did. Why? Why would you want to believe? Surely you can get along just fine without doing so?

If you feel that you somehow “ought to” have a religion --to this too, I’d say "why? But if you want one, you could look into some of the other religions. You know, the ones that aren’t christian. I hear that some of them don’t even have gods, or at least, not personal gods.

Or just make up your own religion. My impression is that many who identify themselves as christions have done this. They pick and choose among the various items of dogma, accepting some, rejecting others. You can make up a version without miracles, if miracles are a sticking point for you.

Good posts, Opus; good analysis.

Ooner (and mabybe muppetsoup)-- Sounds like you don’t believe (don’t have faith), but wish you did. Why? Why would you want to believe? Surely you can get along just fine without doing so?

If you feel that you somehow “ought to” have a religion – to this too, I’d say "why? But if you want one, you could look into some of the other religions. You know, the ones that aren’t christian. I hear that some of them don’t even have gods, or at least, not personal gods.

Or just make up your own religion. My impression is that many who identify themselves as christions have done this. They pick and choose among the various items of dogma, accepting some, rejecting others. You can make up a version without miracles, if miracles are a sticking point for you.

It seems to me that “faith” is what you have when no other explination for a situation suits you. When there is no proof that seems reasonable, then the only place to turn is the unprovable. This does not mean that somewhere down the line an acceptable explination might not present itself (although beliefs are hard to change), but until then I don’t see anything wrong with having faith in a story that explains the unexplainable.

Sure, Christianity requires you to have faith in Jesus’s promises. But you have faith in people all the time. You go to the doctor and you have faith that he knows what he is doing. You come to a 4-way stop sign and you have faith that the guy on the cross street is going to stop. Jesus only asks people to have faith that if they keep his teachings, they will still have food, shelter, and clothing, and, more importantly, come to know God and be loved by God. The fact that you have to trust that the promises are true first, because otherwise it would be foolhardy to obey him, is no different than the trust we put in other people all the time. (If you didn’t trust all the other nuts on the road weren’t going to drive with some semblance of sanity, you wouldn’t drive would you?)

[QUOTE]
Ooner (and mabybe muppetsoup)-- Sounds like you don’t believe (don’t have faith), but wish you did. Why? Why would you want to believe? Surely you can get along just fine without doing so?

[QUOTE]

I’m not saying that I can’t get along just fine without any religious beliefs. So far, I’m doing just fine. However, I do like the idea that there could be someone watching over and taking care of me, but my brain simply won’t allow me to believe it. I’m far too logical.

Which is another point I’d like to make: Is faith an inborn trait or something that must be instilled in one at a very young age, or can it actually be picked up later? Because I can’t even imagine switching from a very science-based athiest attitude to a modern religion that requires faith without some sort of miracle, near-death experience, or other extreme circumstance. I’m not sure if there’s any other way to get faith.

I should learn how to learn the quote feature too… The second quote above is actually not a quote :slight_smile:

Looking for proof and seeking faith are antithetical activities. You can’t prove a miracle, and you cannot disprove what is held in faith. Different worlds.

When I teach arithmetic I don’t much ask for faith. A little bit, for the first few axioms, but even those are simply arguments deferred for the sake of building the system. Later, we can reexamine our axioms, and build theoretical arithmetic based on other axioms. It will be fun. But the rest of arithmetic I don’t ask for faith, and I don’t accept miracles. I want proof, and I want to see your work.

Faith has no place in arithmetic.

The world of the spirit is not subject to examination by the tools of arithmetic. Chemistry, and physics are just extensions of arithmetic, in this regard. From the point of view of the material sciences, there are no spirits. Attempting to apply scientific and mathematical principles to spiritual matters is a very bad joke, from either perspective.

Of course love does exist, and evil, and goodness, and in fact I have a spirit, and I suspect you have one too. The limits of my artificial constructs such as arithmetic, and science are not the limits of existence. I won’t try to build a starship with hymns and prayers, and I won’t ask God to lift rocks, or let me measure his angels’ feet. I will hum as I build my starship, and I will watch the angels dancing, when I see them.

I will leave the contemplation of the heads of pins to pinheads.

God loves you. He loves you in particular. It’s a fuckin’ miracle.

There is one point in all this that you are missing: these people you are referring to are here in person and are real. Jesus is 2000 years dead, and there is no telling if the promises he gave were actually by him or by someone else. The bible was written by man, not by Jesus, not by God and man has a habit of adding what he wants, what he thinks. History is always written by the victors, who is to say the bible was not written in the same, or near-same, context? It is very possible that you are following the promises of a man that never made such promises. It is just like the rumor game, I say “Do not sleep with your boss’ daughter and you will be rich” and a few hundred people later say “Do not pee into Hoss’ water and you’ll see Rich”, and you have faith that is what I said because the people who told you led you to believe that I had said that. You can always check the doctors credentials, you can always watch the man crossing the street, but you cannot confirm the promises made by a dead man 2000 years dead.

Oh, sure. Newton has been dead for a few hundred years – and some even say his laws really came from someone else too. But we can still verify that if you drop a ball from a tower it will fall at a certain accerating speed based upon the gravitational pull of the earth and the object.

I’ll concede you can’t confirm all his promises, only most of them. You can always do what is right anyway out of love, and that will still bring you joy. To put it another way: do you believe in life before death?

I wouldn’t say I feel like I need a religion, so much as I’d like to understand what justification believers have for their religion(s). I know lots of them were raised that way and have never thought twice about it, or at least haven’t done any critical thinking on the subject. The ones that really bother me are smart people, like many posters on this board, who seem articulate, educated, intelligent, etc… and still seem to buy it. I see it as another superstition, requiring extraordinary evidence to believe in an extraordinary claim, yet they don’t use the same skeptical eye when it comes to religion as they would if this whole thread were about my magic monkey’s paw that grants me wishes.

believe nothing, but you will have to judge the reasonableness of strange information for yourself.

research the bible code, torah code actually. there is a computer program for it, you can play with it yourself. unfortunately i don’t know hebrew.

Dal Timgar

Newton, or whoever gave him the ideal, proved the presence of gravity and any child and scientist can prove that it exists. To this day there is no proof that Jesus’ teachings would verify and prove that God exists.

Sorry, but even if I had no faith that gravity existed, it still does and every living person, and dead person from Newton’s time forward, knew that gravity existed and could prove it EVERY SINGLE TIME. Only way to prove Jesus right is to die and find out for yourself.