To believe or not to believe

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. To believe or not to believe

    May 31st 2007
    From The Economist print edition

    A writer who believes in science not God; a scientist who believes in both. But why are they that way? Nobody knows.

    SINCE arguments about God have run for thousands of years, it is a little peculiar to ascribe overwhelming importance to the publication of Darwin's “On the Origin of Species” in 1859. Yet the book did have a soul-sapping effect on unsuspecting Christians. In “Father and Son”, a memoir about loss of faith published anonymously in 1907, Edmund Gosse describes how it drove his father, himself an eminent zoologist, to take him to live on top of a cliff, cutting him off from the world in an attempt to protect him from this heretical notion. The plan didn't work. Some spirit of rebellion stirred in the son, sending his mind wandering during marathon prayer sessions, and he broke free in his teenage years. His father, disappointed, stuck with the God of Abraham.

    Looking at the recent crop of books on God and religion, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that whether people end up like Mr Gosse or like his father depends on whether they have an intrinsic feeling for religion or not. Christopher Hitchens, a polemicist whose tone is that of an erudite straight-talker, does not. Like Mr Gosse, he started non-belief young. Near the beginning of “God is Not Great” he describes his rebellion when confronted with an effusive divinity teacher at school who pointed to the beauty of hedgerows in the English countryside as evidence of His creation. Mr Hitchens has been skewering the syllogistic arguments of the religious in the name of science ever since.

    Francis Collins, on the other hand, has it. Like Mr Gosse senior, Mr Collins is a scientist and a Christian. He confronts Darwin daily in his work as head of the human genome project. He writes well about how, as the code on which DNA is written began to reveal itself, his faith and sense of wonder increased. He stood by Bill Clinton (and worked with his speechwriters) when the then American president talked about DNA as “the language in which God wrote creation”. Mr Collins has no time for intelligent design but conceives God to be of the non-interfering sort, a kind of divine CCTV camera. Yet he believes that Jesus was His son and he prays regularly.

    Belief in God and subscription to a religion are not quite the same thing, although both books treat them as if they were. Mr Hitchens makes the untestable case that the world would be better off without religion altogether. Stupid religious people would stop fighting stupid religious wars and a new enlightenment would ensue. The book is entertaining, meandering and at times disingenuous. Nobody ever went to war for atheism, says Mr Hitchens. But atheists tend to find other reasons to kill each other. To the objection that irreligious fascists and communists found plenty of non-religious reasons for murder in the 20th century, Mr Hitchens retorts that these beliefs were types of secularised religion, and as such do not count.

    What is missing from the book is much sense of what a world without religion, or one that had not had religion in it, might look like. Lots of the principles that Mr Hitchens holds dear, like tolerance and justice, are secularised versions of religious ideas. Religious folk often do the right thing for what Mr Hitchens would call the wrong reasons. Taking faith away would in many cases take away the will to do them. That cost is worth considering.

    Mr Collins argues for what he calls “theistic evolution”, which he reckons is yet to catch on because it has such a terrible name. Though the mechanism of the origin of life is unknown, he says, once evolution was under way no special supernatural intervention was required. As for those parts of the Old Testament that bend the laws of physics, they are symbolic and should be read as such.

    This is a God that would be almost as unfamiliar to Edmund Gosse's father, to John Calvin or the pope as it would to a Roman sacrificing a bull to Mithras. And for all their clarity, Mr Collins's arguments about why he believes in God do little to explain why he is a Christian. To understand that, it is probably enough to look at the Gosse family and conclude that either you get it or you don't.
  2. For gawds sake, choose shorter articles z.
  3. If this was ancient Rome, Z10 would
    be Illogicus, God of the Non Logical.
  4. Please, go piss in another sand box...

  5. Z10, you're so transparent. I see no declaration of a premise, opinion or position on the article. You'll sit and wait to strike on some poor soul(s) unfortunate enough to dive in and comment. Finally, if he, or others, start to out think you (as usual), you'll just shift whatever "position" you had claimed. After all, you always "win" all your "discussions."

    You can save your ridiculous "stalking" accusations; I'm declaring myself the winner in this thread and, in fact, I'm now on may way to pick up an ET Time Saver merit badge.
  6. LOL! Classic, Max! One of the better slap-downs of the resident troll I've seen in some time.
  7. Max, the stalker, who simply cannot control himself...

    Prove me wrong, click the ignore button and be done with it.

    I bet you can't...

  8. Still looking for clarity here.

    Like father like son. Their god is the same, presented to appear different...presented to obscure.

    In each case, the focus is on the universe at hand; how real it is, - how sacred it is - either at its inception, or at its completion.

    Yet in each case, everything in the father's universe dies, and everything in the son's universe dies.

    What then is the difference?

    Is this of God?

    These are idols.

    When one idol falls, another is raised up by another generation and forwarded by it's worshippers.

    But it is still an idol.

    In each case, all things but death are seen to be unsure, too quickly lost however hard to gain, uncertain in their outcome, apt to fail the hopes they once engendered, and to leave the taste of dust and ashes in their wake, in place of aspirations and of dreams...

    But death is counted on. For it will come with certain footsteps when the time has come for it's arrival. It will never fail to take all of life as hostage to itself.

    Would you bow down to idols such as this?

    Here, an idol - made of dust - is perceived to have the strength of God.

    Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God's Will for life, the endlessness of love and heaven's perfect, changeless constancy.

    Here is the Will of the Father and of Son defeated finally, and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God.

    His epitaph, which death itself has written, gives no name to him, for he has passed to dust. It says only this: "

    "Here lies a witness God is dead."

    And this it writes again and still again, while all the while its worshipers agree, and kneeling down with foreheads to the ground, they whisper fearfully that it is so.

    Death is total. Either all things die, or else they live and cannot die. No compromise is possible.

    The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty believing it. For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished; killed, apparently, by those who did not want Him to survive. Their stronger will could triumph over His, and so eternal life gave way to death...

    And with the Father died the Son as well.

    Death's worshipers may be afraid. And yet, can thoughts like these - ie. 'theistic death' - be fearful?

    If the worshipers of death saw that this is only something they believe, they would be instantly released.

    There is no death. I renounce it now in every form it takes.

    God made not death. Whatever form it takes must therefore be illusion.

    It is given to you to look past death and see the life beyond.

    This is the day when vain imaginings part like a curtain, to reveal what lies beyond them.

    Open the curtain by merely letting go all things you think you want. Your trifling treasures put away, and leave a clean and open space within your mind where Christ can come, and offer you the treasure of salvation.
  9. Evolution? Ha!

    The present is the only time there is.

    There is a silence into which the world cannot intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. There is a sense of holiness in you that seriously insane notions - ie 'god made bodies, and/or set up conditions for death' - have never touched.

    This is the be remembered when you open your mind. He has need of your most holy mind to save the world. The world fades easily away before His sight. It's sounds grow dim. Now will you see it with the eyes of Christ. Now is its transformation clear to you.

    Past? Future? Ha!

    This instant, now, you can look upon what is forever there; not with your 'eyeballs', but with the eyes of Christ. He looks past time, and sees eternity as represented there.

    He hears the sounds the senseless, busy world engenders, yet He hears them faintly. For beyond them all He hears the song of heaven, and the Voice for God more clear, more meaningful, more near. A melody from far beyond the world increasingly is more and more distinct. You will recognize it...remember it.

    Is not Christ's vision worthy to be sought above the world's unsatisfying goals?

    The day you open your mind is the day grief is laid by, for sights and sounds that come from nearer than the world are clear to you who will today accept the gifts He gives.

    Now is the balance righted, and the scale of judgement left to Him Who judges true. And in His judgment will a world unfold in perfect innocence before your eyes.

    Your vision, given you from far beyond all things within the world, looks back on them in a new light. And what you see becomes the healing and salvation of the world.

    This vision perceives the valuable and the valueless for what they are.

    You need not judge. You cannot judge. You are incapable of judging. Receive instead what is given you from judgment made beyond the world. This will release you from blindness and from misery.

    All that you see will increase your joy. Both you and the world will stand forgiven simultaneously in His sight, as you see it in the light our Savior looks on it.

    This vision offers you and the world freedom. Is not this purpose worthy to be yours?

    Don't let today slip by without your acceptance of the gifts it holds for you with your consent.

    We can change the world if you acknowledge them.

    You may not see the value your acceptance gives the world. But I assure you this is what you want.

    You can exchange all suffering for joy this very day.

    Practice opening your mind in earnest, and the gift is yours.

    Would God deceive you?

    Can His promise fail?

    Can His promise fail jem?

    Deny not Heaven. It is yours today for the asking.

    You do not need to perceive how great the gift, how changed your mind will be before it comes to you. Ask to receive and it is given you.

    Ask with desire.

    Conviction lies within the gift. Till you welcome it as yours, uncertainty remains. Yet God is fair. Sureness is not required to receive what only your acceptance can bestow.

    You need not be sure that you request the only thing you want. But when you have recieved, you will be sure you have the treasure you have always sought.

    What makes this world seem real except your own denial of the truth that lies beyond?

    What but your thoughts of misery and death obscure the perfect happiness and the eternal life your Father wills for you?

    What could keep from you what you already have except your choice to see it not, denying it is there?

    All things are given you. God's trust in you is limitless. He knows His Son.

    He gives without exception, holding nothing back that can contribute to your happiness. And yet, unless your will is one with His, His gifts are not received.

    What fools you into thinking there is another will than His? Here is the paradox that underlies the making of the world.
  10. This world is not the Will of God, and so it is not real!

    Yet those who think it real must still believe there is another will, and one that leads to opposite effects from those He wills - ie. 'death'.

    Impossible indeed! But every mind that looks upon the world and judges it as certain, solid, trustworthy and true believes in two creators...or in one, himself alone. But never in one God.

    The gifts of God are not acceptable to anyone who holds such strange beliefs. You believe that to accept God's gifts is treachery against yourself. So you deny their presence, contradict the truth, and suffer to preserve the world you made.

    And in this world is all the safety you think you can find...the only home you can know. Ha!

    Without the world you made you think you are an outcast, homeless and afraid. You do not realize it is in this world you made that you are afraid, outcast wandering so far from home for so long you can scarcely remember where you came from, where you are going, or even who you really are.

    Yet in these lonely senseless wanderings, God's gifts go with you all unknown to you. You cannot lose them!

    But you will not look at what is given you as you wander on, aware of the futility you see about you everywhere...seeing how what little you have dwindles as you go ahead to nowhere.

    Still, you wander on in misery and poverty - trading for ticks - alone though God is with you, possessing a treasure so great that everything the world contains is valueless before its magnitude.

    Eveyone who comes here has pursued the path he follows...and has felt defeat and hopelessness each in his own way.

    Yet is this really a tragedy? Is it really tragic, when you see that each one who comes here is following the way he chose, and need only realize Who walks with him and open up his treasures to be free?

    This is your chosen self - ZZZzzzzzzz - the one you made as a replacement for reality. This is the self you savagely defend against all reason, every evidence, and all the witnesses with proof to show this is not you.

    You heed them not.

    You go on your appointed way, with eyes cast down, or cast upon Ceasar, lest you catch a glimpse of truth, and be released from self-deception and set free.

    You cower fearfully lest you should feel Christ's touch upon your shoulder, and perceive His gentle hand directing you to look upon your gifts. He would make you laugh - make you roll on the floor laughing your ass off - at this perception of yourself.

    Withdraw faith in your ass and it will disappear.

    Your ancient fear has come upon you now, and justice has caught up with you at last.

    Christ's hand has touched your shoulder, and you feel that you are not alone.

    You even think the miserable self you thought was you may not be your Identity.

    Perhaps God's word is truer than your own. Perhaps His gifts to you are real. Perhaps he has not wholly been outwitted by your plan to keep His Son in deep oblivion, and go the way you chose without your Self.

    God's Will does not oppose. It merely is.

    It is not God you have imprisoned in your plan to lose your Self. He does not know about a plan so alien to His Will.

    Now do we live, for now we cannot die. The wish for death is answered, and the sight that looked upon it now has been replaced by vision which percieves that you are not what you pretend to be.

    One walks with you Who gently answers all your fears with this one merciful reply, "It is not so". He points to all the gifts you have each time the thought of poverty or injustice oppresses you...and speaks of His Companionship when you perceive yourself as lonely and afraid.

    Yet He reminds you still of one thing more you had forgotten. For His touch has made you like Himself. The gifts you have are not for you alone. What he has come to offer you, you now must learn to give.

    The gifts are yours, entrusted to your care, to give to all who chose the lonely road you have now escaped by your acceptance of them.

    It is you who teach them now. For you have learned of Christ there is another way to walk. Teach them by showing them the happiness that comes to those who feel the touch of Christ, and recognize God's gifts.

    Now begrudge not the injustices you see in the world. Do not even sigh, for your sighs will betray the hopes of those who look to you for their release. Your tears are their tears, and they will not stop crying until you stop. If you remain sick, you will withhold healing from the world. Whatever you fear teaches the world that their fears are justified. Is this what you wish to convey?

    Instead, your hand becomes the giver of Christ's touch; your change of mind becomes the proof that who accepts God's gifts can never suffer anything.

    You are entrusted with the world's release from pain - because I could never post as furiously and as frequently as you. :)

    Betray not this trust.

    Become the living proof of what Christ's touch can offer everyone.

    God has entrusted all His gifts to you. Be witness in your happiness to how transformed the mind becomes which chooses to accept His gifts, and feel the touch of Christ.

    Such is your mission now.

    For God entrusts the giving of His gifts to all who have received them. He has shared His joy with you, and now you go to share it with the world.

    Ah! To believe or not to believe. That is the question!

    #10     Jun 9, 2007