I believe in God. Start with that statement, and let me make clear that the term “believe” is not to be construed as “intellectual acceptance of the existence of” but as “put one’s trust in.”
I am unclear as to what you are saying here. Are you saying that you trust in god though you are not 100 percent sure that he exists? I know you tend to get upset that I take your statements and reword them, but I am trying to get a clear handle on what your position is, so feel free to clarify for me. If your not 100 percent sure that god exists can you estimate what percent sure you are that some god exists and what percent chance you think that he is of the christian variety?
I do not comprehend God – whatever and whoever He is, He’s significantly more than anything I can wrap my mind around. I know Him in the sense that I know a person – as an individual I can trust, who has made His goodwill known to me.
I think this gets down to the crux. How can you know god as you would a person? Also how can you be sure he has made his goodwill known to you. You have posted that you have had some unfortunate things happen to you as well. Couldn’t you just as easily said that god has made his badwill known to you?
I understand Him as expressed in the traditional terms of Christianity, that being the medium through which I came to know of Him.
I don’t think you are making the claim that Jesus actually and literally came and spoke to you. Would it be accurate to rephrase this by saying you went through some very unlikely events, which would make anyone think there might be something there and because you live in the USA, christianity was the most proximal supernatural explanation?
As a putatively omnipotent being, I am forced to accept the idea that He can if He wishes supersede the everyday generalizations of how things behave that we have codified as laws of science. I do not, however, believe that He does this as a general rule, if at all. It’s my belief that He works through the Universe that He created and the laws that He instituted to govern its workings to achieve His ends.
I take it from this that you don’t put much credence in any of the miracle stories. In the last thread you seemed to be saying that you didn’t believe in hell either. If I got this wrong please clarify. Do you beleive in heaven or any other afterlife?
It is in this respect that I can read the Bible “seriously but not literally” (as Marcus Borg phrases it).
Well, as Voltaire phrases it “A proverb isn’t a reason.” Heck, I read the bible seriously, but not literally, as I did The Iliad and The Odyssey. All three talked of gods and had moral lessons a plenty if you looked for them. How can you (without cherry picking) say the bible is any different?
Its contents speak to me in vivid detail of the nature of God’s personality, of human nature, of what Jesus did and taught.
Plagues, floods, fire and brimstone, angel’s with swords, hell fire for unbeleivers. This speaks to me vivid detail of god’s personality (if he exists) and in our dog eat dog world, it actually fit’s better than the nice god that you see. Note that to see your loving god, you have to ignore or explain away a lot of jealous, vengeful, murderous stuff. How can you say that your view of god’s personality is right and the bad stuff is wrong? Back to the greek god’s, at least they didn’t make the claim of being all good and all powerful at the same time. In that sense I think you could make their existance a little more likely than your favorite god.
Precisely what happened on the Sea of Galilee one stormy day, or on the hillside where the crowd of 5,000 men had gathered, I don’t know. That doesn’t matter – it’s the meaning that the Evangelists invest those stories with that is the key point for me.
How can you say that doesn’t matter? If the claim is that Jesus is god, and he demonstrates this by doing miracles, how can it not be important that these miracles didn’t really happen? Isn’t that the evidence. Otherwise all he has is sayings that you aren’t sure are really his, as his biographers are obviously unreliable.
But the character of the man Jesus comes through in both accounts.
A stuck up compulsive griper who is never pleased with anything anyone else does, who might actually be able to have a good time if he would look at the bright side of things?
From one perspective, my life was saved by the knowledge of the cardiologist at the hospital and his prompt treatment with a clot-dissolver and other stuff later. But how I came to get there in time is another question. Did God miraculously save my life? Or not? Or does it depend on how you interpret the facts I’ve just reported?
Yes, it does depend on how you interpret the facts. It also depends on what are the facts. Regarding your friends visit, I have to go back to David Hume. Is it more likely that your friend showed up by coincidence and then came up with the story about his “strong urge” coming from god? It’s unclear from your story whether he thinks it came from god or not but that is the implication I am recieving. Or was his urge no stronger than required for anyone to do anything?
Besides the question of the above fact. Look at how you spin your heart attack as a good thing as evidence for the existance of god. I got news for you. A heart attack is a bad thing! So instead of asking why did god help you, why not ask why he chose to screw you over like that? A fundamentalist could say that it was for your liberal interpretation of the bible sending people to hell.
Still aside from your bias in the story I would tend to explain it as such. Lots of people have heart attacks. Many survive. In a land where most people believe in god, most of them pray. Those that live tell of their miracle or whatever you want to call it. Those that die tell no tales. Of course I could ask the obvious like: Why did god save you and not stop plane crashes, huricanes, wars, yadda yadda.
Likewise, the attribution of the genocide of the Canaanites and Amelekites and the killing of 42 boys who sassed Elisha by two bears to the command of God is, for me, a case of “passing the buck upstairs,” little different from President Bush thinking that it’s his Christian duty to lead us into an invasion of Iraq.
While I agree, your still cherry picking (your term that fits well) what you want to believe over what you have good reason to believe.
First, I read Scripture with an eye to the total message of the book, and with particular reference to what genre of writing is being used at the moment. The Book of Jonah, for example, is a fable with the message that God wants repentance from and extends salvation to all people, including your enemies – Jonah was sent to the Assyrians who were Judah’s biggest threat, and balked at going. The fish story is a part of his trying to run away from God’s will for him, and wherever he went finding God there. And when he finally did preach repentance to the Ninevites (who historically never repented and converted to worship of YHWH, by the way), he was pissed off that those sons of bitches got saved, even by his preaching. The gourd story that ends the book deals with God gently reminding him that He’s in charge, and He’s compassionate to all men.
Again your biasing what you believe. The bible is full (really full) of accounts of god not being compassionate to all men. Besides even if the details of the above account aren’t to be taken seriously, I don’t think the lesson is any good either. A better lesson could be that nobody is in charge, nature is a cruel place, so you better watch yourself because there are no fairy godmothers to look after you.
“Supernatural events” in the Bible are the writer’s naive perceptions of what went on. I do not know whether any given one of them is a literal account or not, but it does not matter – whether Jesus got up from the tomb on Easter Morning in a sort of Night of the Undead Messiah or not, some event occurred that convinced men who had known Jesus intimately for three years that although they’d seen Him dead, He was alive again.
Again, if Jesus did not really do miracles, what makes him different that a lot of other so called wise thinkers who attracted a following, that you chose not to worship?