So have I. What this thread doesn’t reveal is just how much time and effort I have invested in making the best possible determinations I could about the subjects being discussed here and in other threads. I work from 8:30-4:30 five days a week. I get up in the morning and spend 1-2 hours every day reading and reviewing material. I normally spend my lunch hour everyday continuing the endeavor. Upon my arrival home for the day, I sometimes spend anywhere from 2-3 more hours gobbling up everything I can find. In addition to that, I frequently spend hours on the weekends consumed by my relentless efforts to satisfy the enormous craving I have had to find the answers. It has been, and continues to be, an obsession.
Despite what some may think, I was not brought up in the Christian environment that so many of the non-theistic discussion boards like to use as a case for the ‘brainwashed’ mentality that controls us theists. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old that I became a Christian. My parents were not the devout Christians the non-theists would like to think. Regardless, I did have to admit that if I was going to be fair to myself when approaching the entire theist vs. non-theist debate that I would have to make a determined effort to shackle my faith.
I will tell you, very briefly, why I even approached this self imposed challenge. My faith had been subjected to some incredibly trying experiences. Over the course of the last 4-5 years, I have sensed a fading of its influence in my life to the point where I was on the brink of thinking I would have to be done with it. It was making me miserable. It was at that point that I made a conscious decision to validate once and for all whether it was real or imagined. I tend to get beat up in these discussions and criticized and labeled with disrespectful terms and words but, frankly, I could care less. This is MY journey, my endeavor….this is about ME and what I was going to decide. That may sound selfish and disrespectful but I HAD to take that approach out of fairness to myself.
What I can tell you is this. I am not 70% certain of my position. I am not 90% certain. I am unequivocally 100% certain of what I discovered. Right now, I feel better than I can ever remember feeling about the reality of God that I see. Please do not ask me to elaborate on this because I know it will only amount to an endless circle of debate....and since I won't elaborate directly, you asking me and me not responding will only get me in trouble with the mods...so, please don't do it. This commentary is simply a reply to the appeal that I take an unbiased approach to the non-theist viewpoint.
With that being said, if you haven't done so already, I would just like to encourage you, and anyone else up to the challenge, to endeavor to take a neutral approach like I did and locate, examine, and critique every piece of evidentiary material you can get your hands on…..both from a theist standpoint and a non-theist standpoint. Check out every point and counter-point that you can. Be fair to yourself. Be objective. Don’t be so quick to accept what anyone says just because they claim to be a lifelong biologist or an accredited theologian or a high profile geologist or a creationist historian, etc etc. Once you’ve reached a point where you feel committed to the conclusions you have drawn, examine the Biblical account and see if you think it influences your decision…..even if you find yourself continuing to favor a non-theistic belief.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD” – Jeremiah 29:13-14
A try at honesty.. MUCH MUCH better Biblestudent. Much better.
Ok, this is fair. You are 100% sure of your position and so am I. You base that on your life and your experiences. So do I. The approach I took was much the same as yours. And I came out with the opposite conclusion. I don't see how it's possible to do what you say you did and come out with your belief intact without FIRST believing that God is real. Did you simply ignore the things that didn't make any sense or fit with reality? Because there are lots of them.
If you really want to claim that you took an unbiased look at your religion, then I have to ask you... How do you get past the idea of talking snakes, unicorns, dragons, giants, jewish zombies, people surviving in fish for days and all the other things you find in the bible that make no sense, if you are really, seriously using reason and logic to determine truth? Is there any other book that you have read in your life that had talking animals in it that was compelling to believe when you read it? The only possible way you can get past those things is if you already believed in God prior to reading it. Belief in God is a prerequisite for believing in things that your logic and reason will tell you are false. It is utterly impossible to conclude that the bible is truth if you are looking at it logically and rationally. Your every day experiences scream at you that talking animals are not real. That dragons are not real. That people can't live inside fish. That when people die, they don't rise from the dead 3 days later. That nobody knows what happens after we die because nobody has been there and come back. How do you get past all that without first believing in God?
But there are 2 lines of what you posted that are very telling....
Please do not ask me to elaborate on this because I know it will only amount to an endless circle of debate....and since I won't elaborate directly, you asking me and me not responding will only get me in trouble with the mods...so, please don't do it.
I have sensed a fading of its influence in my life to the point where I was on the brink of thinking I would have to be done with it. It was making me miserable.
First: You have to understand, we get the "I can't tell you what it is" all the time. You won't tell us because you know we won't believe it as evidence, right? If you couldn't convince us based on your experience, then why does the experience convince you? If it was fool proof evidence, then I would really like to hear it. I believe I looked very hard and with a critical eye during all the time I spent looking for the truth behind religions. I concluded that talking snakes were most likely not real. I concluded that people can't turn water into wine. I concluded that leprosy is not cured by the methods approved of in the bible. I concluded that Mohammad did not fly to heaven on a winged horse. Those are logical assessments of the claims in religious books made from an unbiased standpoint and the reality of the world I have lived in for the past 30+ years. It is the same assessment I would use to evaluate the book "Charlotte's Web" for truth. Talking animals are not real, so it is most likely that "Charlotte's Web" is fiction. The bible is just a book. It deserves the EXACT same skepticism as "Charlotte's Web". The minute you hold back your skepticism when you review ANY book, you are no longer looking for truth... you are only looking to confirm what you want to believe. The minute you allow yourself to believe in an invisible sky person that can do anything, then of course anything is possible! Talking pigs, and spiders are also possible if you believe in God. All religions are perpetuated that way. The question then becomes, what evidence
is there for that particular sky person? Hmm, none.
My final question to myself was this... is it more likely that these things were all made up by people who didn't know much about the world, or is it more likely that all of it is true. Well, from everything we know about extraordinary claims, they require extraordinary evidence. If you are going to tell me there is a giant pink rabbit behind me, then you better back it up... especially since when I turn around, I don't see anything. We also know that people lie... a lot. We also know that there have been literally thousands of different religions throughout the history of time and they can't all be right. The evidence for talking snakes, the resurrection, all of it is non-existant. Your honest look at religion would have revealed that to you if you really did what you said. There is no other place outside the bible that makes the claim that Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead 3 days later that was written within 100 years of his death. And the original claim isn't even from someone who SAW it. It was second hand information! Therefore it is most logical to conclude that none of it is true. Can you please tell me where that logic breaks down? From a purely logical standpoint, the idea that all of it is true, is lunacy. It is far more logical to think that they made it all up, just like E.B. White made up "Charlotte's Web". Can you tell me with a straight face, that if you read the bible story in any location besides "the bible", you would believe it?
Second: You said it yourself... You were miserable when you were without your faith. When someone is in that state of mind, they are vulnerable to something... anything making a positive impact on their faith. Those "trying" experiences you had, you never let them lead you in the direction that they were taking you. It sounds like you fought them tooth and nail. You likely brushed aside all the things continued to lead you away from your faith and put a heightened sense of priority on things that helped to validate your faith (be them real or imagined). The reason you were miserable probably had a lot to do with the realization that what you believed was false (why else would you have been miserable?) If you had just let yourself embrace truth, no matter how miserable it made you feel, you would have come out the other side a better, stronger person. But instead it seems you let some experience pull you back in because it was easier to embrace the fantasy than accept the reality.
If you have overwhelming evidence that convinced you, then you should share it with all of us. If there is a Christian God, I want to know. One of us is right, and the other is wrong, yet both of us are 100% sure of our positions. Let's face it, you don't have logic and reason (the normal way you decide between true and false) on your side. So the evidence you have is something you should share, and it should convince us beyond any doubt that we are wrong, right?
Otherwise, we all understand that the reason you hide it from us is because you know we can (and will) poke giant holes in it.
Did you read any of the 50 proofs of this website? How do you respond to all of them? Hell, how do you respond to even 1 of them? They are dead-on accurate.
Finally, regarding that bible quote you put up... think about it. "Seek and you shall find". What happens when you don't find it? The religious solution? You aren't looking hard enough... you don't have enough faith. It tells the person "if you don't find it, you aren't using your whole heart." So what are the possible outcomes? Either you find God, or you have to keep looking harder. It is not a situation that allows for someone to embrace the truth that no matter how hard you search, it's not really there. A Christian can never conclude that. They will either find God, or die trying to find God. Well, I didn't fall for that trick. When I seeked God, he wasn't there. It wasn't like I was angry, or upset at God. I just found him to be non-existant. It was just more validation that it's all fake.
Can you, in all honesty, provide 1 single logical, reasonable and compelling argument that would make someone like me reconsider my position? And remember, I have no faith, and I think the bible is all false, so you can't really use bible quotes... but I am open to you proving I am wrong using reason, logic and evidence. Go for it.