Friday, January 16, 2009

Lord, Lord!


How tragic that the US Airways plane hit a flock of birds, taking out both engines.

How wonderful that the pilot was incredibly skilled & able to glide the plane down to a safe landing in a crowded river, with no deaths.

How....predictable!...that the reports you read from passengers on the plane describe people praying desperately as the plane went down.

The first interview I saw on TV regarding this crash was with a passenger named Jeff Kolodjay. His voice was still shaking; he was still visibly unnerved.

As he described the events that tranpired, he said,"...and everyone was just...praying, actually..."

He stuttered for a second, uncomfortable about revealing this fact.

The people on this plane got this report from the pilot: "Brace yourselves, because we're going down." Just like that, they were forced to face death.

Many people on the plane started praying. Audibly, at that. How many of these praying people do you think are practicing Christians? How many are saved of the Lord, in Christ?

How many of these people, the day before, would have felt uncomfortable in the presence of somebody praying at a restaurant? How many would have made fun?

Impending death made them suddenly realize that they weren't in control, so they began to plead to God!

Nothing they had ever done in and of this world mattered any more. All that mattered was God!

How many of these people, had the plane crashed and burned on land, would have been told, "Depart from me...I never knew you"?

Let's pray for these people. God used this aviation disaster to make himself suddenly real to all the people involved. All of a sudden, God wasn't something to be mocked! Praying out loud in public wasn't something for religious fanatics! They were instantly changed. Let us hope that it impacts them - all of them, for the rest of their lives. And those people involved who were ignorant of, opposed to, or indifferent to the Word of God and the truth of salvation before this incident...let us pray that they never forget the day they faced death.

42 comments:

  1. "How many of these people, the day before, would have felt uncomfortable in the presence of somebody praying at a restaurant? How many would have made fun?"

    Oh what a great point.......they say there are no atheists in foxholes.....now we know we can add planes falling out of the sky as well.

    I have non-Christian folks come up to me at work and ask me to pray for someone they know or love.

    Why would they do that? That has always puzzled me......A person who doesn't believe in God, but wants you to pray for them. I don't wonder too long though and use it as a opportunity to witness!

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  2. It is an enigma. It's worldly reasoning. Just like some folks who I have spoken with who say, "You know, I believe in God...but this whole virgin birth thing...I mean, c'mon, that was obviously made up! That's impossible!"

    Then I say, "So, you believe that there's a God who created all people, all things, the world, and the universe?". They'll say, "yes". Then I'll ask, "And the God who created the universe in it's infinite complexity...you don't think He is able to make a virgin give birth??"

    That usually yields some smiles, along with, "I've never thought about it like that before."

    Worldly reasoning.

    Like in Ray's blog, how the atheists were arguing about the vocal chords of a snake, trying to prove their point that it's impossible...

    Well, if God can create a universe, I guarantee He can make a snake speak. And He can do whatever else He wants to do.

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  3. Sinner Saved,

    You said;
    "Like in Ray's blog, how the atheists were arguing about the vocal chords of a snake, trying to prove their point that it's impossible...

    Well, if God can create a universe, I guarantee He can make a snake speak. And He can do whatever else He wants to do."

    The question is, why would God cause a miracle to occur (the snake speaking) if the snake was going to tempt Eve to ruin everything for humanity?

    Besides, I don't think any of the atheists were arguing that God couldn't make a snake talk (assuming a God exists, I'm sure they'd all agree that He most certainly could). What they were arguing against was Ray's odd re-defining of what 'talking' means.

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  4. To clarify,

    Ray was asking why atheists disbelieve in a talking snake when other species (bonobos, gorillas, birds, whales etc.) 'talk' to each other, and humans, all the time.

    What the atheists were saying was that snakes can't communicate in the same way as the above species so Ray positing that the snake communicated in a 'natural' way like a dog begging for food was, rightly, questioned by all the rational people at his blog.

    I didn't see anyone saying that God couldn't make a snake talk if He wanted to.

    Anyway, I'm glad all those on the plane were as lucky as they were - no matter what their religious affiliations or 'saved' status.


    PS. my grandfather was in a foxhole once...he says he was too busy trying not to die to think about what would come after.

    Cheers,

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  5. ExPatMatt,

    Ray was "shaking chum into the water". This, we both understand.

    The question of "why would God want to make a snake talk..." is one of those things regarding which I am content to say, "I don't know completely". I do know that He desires our love, and there is no such thing as love without free will. So if Eve had never been tempted, there never would have been the opportunity to resist the temptation. Adam & Eve were prideful...they thought they could disobey God.

    That's one of our biggest problems. People are too proud to believe the Bible. If something seems like it might not make sense, well, I'll tell you, people are going to jump all over it!

    And that is a funny story about your grandfather. World War II? Both of my grandfathers were in WWII, but I never got the chance to speak to them too much about it, as they died while I was a younger guy.

    I guarantee you this: If you humble yourself before God, things will be more clear. Spiritual things are nonsense to the flesh, and the pride of men keeps them from understanding. I mean, to say we're on the same level of reasoning as God... (!!)

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  6. Let me clarify:

    Adam & Eve thought they could disobey God and get away with it; fool Him; be greater than Him.

    If you don't mind me asking, are you an atheist?

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  7. I don't mind at all. I am an atheist; I lack a belief in a deity.

    My grandfather was in WW2. I think that many who did serve are fairly unwilling to talk too much about it, even if they have a willing ear.I guess when you've had 60-odd years of life after a war, the war isn't the bit you really want to remember?

    Thanks for your thoughts on the Serpent/Eden issue; I've heard that (human pride) angle before actually and, I think, the typical atheist response is to ask how they could have been proud before they attained knowledge of Good and Evil. Your thoughts?

    Yes, Ray does shake the chum quite often. He also crosses the line into outright misrepresentation and lying pretty often too. That's one of the main reasons the atheists stick around; to correct the scientific falsehoods he spouts.

    Today's post, for example, was really good ('Knowing God'). It's when he starts going on about 'transitional forms' and the Moon producing light that people get worked up.

    Cheers,

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  8. ExPatMatt,

    Even though you are an atheist...your sins are also forgiven. That death on the cross was for you, too.

    There may come a time when you are not so concerned about surviving (as your Grandfather was) but you know that you are coming close to death. If you call upon Jesus, He will hear you, and He will be there for you, and He will pull you up opuit of that grave and bring you Home where you belong and you will suffer no more and live in perfect peace with your maker...for ever and ever.

    Pie in the sky?

    What's the matter? You don't like pie!?

    Take care, ExPatMatt!

    - Steve matin San Clemente, CA

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  9. That's Steve Martin (I went to an L.A. City public school)

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  10. theoldadam:

    This type of belief system is based on absolutely nothing. Plain and simple, it's a cop out. Are you saying that the death of Christ was universal, for all men, no matter what? Are you a member of that man's church who calls himself the second coming, or the anti-christ, or whatever he is now calling himself as he cavorts around with millions of dollars and a girl on each arm while assuring everyone of their salvation no matter what they do?

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  11. A co-worker at my former job said she remembers right after the planes hit the World Trade Center, there were a lot of people who went to church. When things settled down, the numbers in the churches went down significantly. Nonbelievers only turn to God when there is turbulence, if at all. However, the Church should be going to the unsaved and should not expect the unsaved to just drop by and sit in the pews.

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  12. "...acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever."

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  13. Theoldadam,
    You said;
    "Even though you are an atheist...your sins are also forgiven. That death on the cross was for you, too."

    That's what you believe and it's very nice of you to say so, but the fact that I'm an atheist should have been the giveaway that I don't believe there was a 'sacrifice on the cross' that redeemed mankind. If I believed that, I wouldn't be an atheists now, would I?

    "There may come a time when you are ... coming close to death. If you call upon Jesus, He will hear you..."

    A death-bed conversion, eh? That's a bit cheeky, don't you think? If I'm going to commit to being saved, I would want to do it for the right reasons (love of God, etc.), not just out of fear of death.

    "Pie in the sky?

    What's the matter? You don't like pie!?"

    I love pie.

    Cheers Steve

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  14. Steve said - "Even though you are an atheist...your sins are also forgiven. That death on the cross was for you, too."



    Steve, I know you are not a universalist.....please clarify your thought.

    Only through repenting and trusting in Christ can anyone have forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Heaven.......

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  15. Christopher Geiser,

    Can you not understand why people would go to church after an event like 9/11?

    No, they may not be 'True Christians', but when scared people don't know where else to turn, religion (I'm sure many non-Christian religions saw an increase in numbers too) does provide a lot of solace and comfort - even if they don't REALLY believe in the theology behind it. Not only that, but there is a comforting sense of community there too.

    I'm sure that there are many events that occur all the time that make unbelievers wish they DID have a faith, but it appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to an unexpected shock that you cannot really fault them for - especially if they have nobody else to turn to.

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  16. I think Steve made it clear that Jesus DID die for everyone - but it only makes a difference to you personally, if you accept that sacrifice.

    I don't think he was trying to say that everyone gets into Heaven or anything.

    PS. Steve also said; "If you call upon Jesus, He will hear you, and He will be there for you, and He will pull you up out of that grave and bring you Home where you belong and you will suffer no more and live in perfect peace with your maker...for ever and ever."

    I've tried this, a number of times in my life, and nothing happened. Thoughts?

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  17. ExPatMatt,

    If you trust that He died for you, and that He forgives you...then you've got it.

    No bells need go off. No fireworks. It about faith, trust.

    Put yourself in the path of those promises and pray that He will save you.

    If you have been baptised, then His promises were made tangible in an event where He actually adopted you.

    To take us off the religious ladder climbing project, He gave us Himself in bread and wine. Another place that He acts for us, from outside of ourselves.

    I was 40 years old before my lightswitch 'went on'.

    Who knows when faith will come. But He does desire that all come to come.

    So, don't give up on Him...He'll never give up on you.

    Thanks!

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  18. Actually, I think he WAS trying to say that everyone gets into Heaven...he said, "even though you're an atheist, your sins are forgiven". But, while we wait for his further explanation...

    You have tried what? Calling on the name of the Lord?

    Were you waiting for something magical to happen? Or, maybe something was wrong in your life, and you wanted it fixed? Were you asking for something?

    Something that is *key* to a real conversion is the realization that we're, well, wretched. Sinners. Unworthy of God's grace, unworthy of Heaven; we've broken His laws! We deserve the punishment. It may sound strange to you, but the God who created the everybody & everything...the universe...in all of its complexity wrote His law upon our conscience. We have all broken the law repeatedly, throughout our entire lives. Once you realize the punishment for breaking His laws, and you realize that that's *exactly* what we deserve for breaking His laws, the beauty of the cross becomes overwhelming. He took it from us, as a legal transaction.

    That's why I serve God. He did it for me. And, coming to this realization is an incredibly humbling experience. And it also makes you realize the seriousness of taking that sacrifice and trampling it underfoot.

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  19. I'm a Lutheran. Lutherans don't buy into 'free will theology'.

    We believe that it is God's will for us that is important and that when it comes to choosing God, we do cannot (will not) do it.

    St. Paul reminds us in Romans that, "no one seeks for God." Those words are NO ONE.

    He does seek us (thanks be to God!) and through the law and the gospel He convicts and kills (theologically) and grabs a hold of hearts (as Jesus told Niccodemus) "when and where He will."

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  20. "So, don't give up on Him...He'll never give up on you."

    That's going to be tricky when I don't believe He exists!

    Thanks for the thought though.

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  21. ExPatMatt,

    That's ok. He knows that you exist...and He is after you!

    That other guy (satan) is after you as well.

    I know, you don't believe in him, either. It is hard to believe in things that we cannot see.

    There was a time when every believer did not believe.

    Take care, my friend!

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  22. Anyone who will, may come.

    "No one seeks after God" is a reference to every person falling short of perfection. We all turn from Him in our lives, in some ways (some in many ways). We all fall short; none are worthy.

    Praise God that nobody is exempt from humbling themselves before the cross and being saved by God in Christ. Nobody.

    ExPatMatt, for instance, doesn't have to twiddle his thumbs, hoping God will come for him one day. ExPatMatt can make the choice, right now if he wants. Or, he can choose not to accept the cross. It's his choice, though.

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  23. That is not what scripture says.

    Why is it that 85% of people that go forward at a Billy Graham crusade do not even go to church anymore 5 years later.

    The chief sign of faith is the sincere desire to worship.

    "No one seeks for God." means just that. We don't want Him. That is why we continue sinning. We don't want to stop sinning...otherwise we would.

    The words make your decision for Jesus, or accept Jesus do not appear in the bible.

    Called and chosen is the way the New Testament describes how one comes to believe.

    Our 'free will' is not the answer...it is THE PROBLEM...and it was right from the begining.

    I don't expect you to agree with me, but I do want you to know that there other Christians with biblical backing, that have other views as to how all this happens.

    Thanks a lot!

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  24. Romans 9 is very difficult for Evangelicals to swallow. But the doctrine of election (God's election) means that God chooses.

    it doesn't mean that He knows who will do what...it means that God chooses.

    The old Adam in us just hates that. We want to have some control in all of this. We want to play a role in it.

    Sorry.

    God won't have it. We've already screwed things up with our wills (sin). He won't let us dirty the salvation process. He can handle that just fine without our help.

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  25. The majority of people who make a decision for Christ become "backsliders" because they were never truly saved in the first place. They were seeking an emotional "buzz", and something to feel good about. If they truly realized the wages of sin & the penalty for dying with the wrath of God still on them, they would have been securely saved forever.

    This is back to the previous topic.

    We must acknowledge that we're sinners, accept the free gift of grace, and give it all to God.

    If we continue to sin, we are not in the faith. THAT is biblical.

    Do you think it's OK to, say, blaspheme God's name?

    Or, if somebody walks around saying GD and JC all day, cheats on their spouse regularly, but claims to be a Christian...is that person saved?

    What if they claim to have a desire to worship God?

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  26. Why do you continue to sin, then?

    Because you continue to sin, are you not really a Christian?

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  27. This kind of reasoning, or theology is exactly why I am a Lutheran.

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  28. I live my life doing my best not to sin. If a sin creeps into my life, I confess it and repent. This is how we're commanded to live. Do you admit your sins to God, and turn from them?

    The "Lord! Lord!" scripture referenced in this article I wrote...how do you explain that? People crying to Jesus, calling him Lord...cast away from Him. Thoughts?

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  29. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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  30. I do not remember where this is in the bible, it is in the New Testament.

    A building fell down onto some innocent people. The onlookers asked Jesus why that tragedy happened. Jesus said to the onlookers they themselves should repent and believe in the Son or something worse would happen to them.

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  31. I sin because I am a sinner. It is not something that we strp into and out of.
    It is a condition. We repent (with the help of the Holy Spirit).
    But we continue in our sin. He died for it, didn't He?
    Dis He say I'll love you when you clean up your act? I hope not, otherwise we are all in a lot of trouble.
    The Jews asked Him what it is to do the will of the Father. Jesus said, believe in the one whom He has sent.
    It is all about trust. He wants us to have it so bad that He gives it to us.
    The bible does tell us that faith is a gift of God. it is not something that we conjur up on our own or buck up to. It comes from Him as does everything else that we need.

    It's just a matter of focus and emphasis.

    I like to focus on Christ and what He has done, and not what I do. "He must increase, I must decrease."

    Anyway, I'm going out of town for a couple of days and won't be checking the blogs for a little bit.

    Take care and God bless and thanks for a stimulating discussion!

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  32. SinnerSaved,

    You said;

    "Something that is *key* to a real conversion is the realization that we're, well, wretched. Sinners. Unworthy of God's grace, unworthy of Heaven; we've broken His laws! We deserve the punishment."

    It sounds like you're saying I 'did it wrong'? I've had this response from a number of Christians when I tell them I've tried to establish a relationship with God. I can only assure you (from my perspective), that the only thing that was wrong was that God wasn't there.

    I have not felt compelled to return to that situation since the last time (around 5 years ago) and have found the evidence for God existence to be less than adequate enough to warrant me trying again.

    The behavior of many True Christians (not you, or any of the posters on this thread) has been a major factor in this decision.

    Thanks for the interesting discussion, above.

    Regards,

    Matt

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  33. Matt,

    I appreciate your truthfulness and openness throughout this discussion.

    I hope you'll stay open to God. Let your conscience convict you. It's tempting to think we are the end-all of existence, but we aren't. We are creatures; we were created. The God that gave us everything and died for us "while we were yet sinners" doesn't owe us any more than He's already given us. He didn't owe us what He gave us in the first place. We owe Him.

    We all broke God's laws. I did, and you did. And one day, you will die. And then none of our human reasoning matters anymore.

    God is real. I tell you because I care about you, for real. I'll pray for you, man.

    Stop by any time!

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  34. SinnerSaved,

    Thanks for the open door, it's good to discuss these things without the barrier of a (seemingly) arbitrary moderation system in the way!

    You said;

    "Let your conscience convict you."

    It does, daily. I constantly catch myself making mistakes and doing things that are contrary to how I wish to live my life. I take responsibility for them, confront the problem and find resolution. I don't feel any compulsion to live up to the impossible standards of any God as I have no reason to believe that one even exists.

    I know that I exist and my actions have impacts on those around me (as their actions have an impact on me). Because of this, I try to live an ethical life; not for any reward or grace from above, not because I'm trying to hide from sin. Just to exist peacefully in a world I'd be happy to leave to my kids.

    The rest of your comment is totally dependent on me first accepting the existence of God, which I have no reason to do.

    Let me ask you, which came first for you;

    a) belief in God, or
    b) recognition of your sinful nature, or
    c) acknowledgment that you'd broken His laws, or
    d) knowledge of God through the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

    I'd assume (feel free to correct me) that a) came first, followed by b) and then c) and finally d). Is that right?

    If so, what was it that convinced you that God existed in the first place?

    Thanks,

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  35. Matt,

    Wonderful; that conscience that convicts you daily is doing its job. It always will, too. It was put there by God. That's the law that is written on your heart. Nobody has to tell us that killing someone else is wrong; it's inherent knowledge. No animal shares that with us. We know it, in our hearts. But why, if it's the result of an evolutionary process? Or, being promiscuous. That seems to be the perfect way to further our species. Why moral hangups? Why STDs? It's a curious thing...

    Have you read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis? If not, I highly recommend it. He discusses the idea of our conscience, and how it goes against our instincts. All animals lack it. I'm certain you will have an explanation for it from your point of view, but I contend that it's put there by God. And you must admit, if we have a conscience and it was put there by God, then it does seem reasonable to think that we'll be held accountable for its use.

    Regarding your question: I am kind of a different case. I was always a "smart kid" growing up, but rebellious. I have a high I.Q. (unless it has fallen since I was tested, of course) and I think that made me think I was something special, growing up. I was an atheist as a younger guy and saw religion as an insult to my intellect.

    It wasn't until someone had the patience to really talk to me about Christ and the Bible that I even considered otherwise. I saw the sincerity of that person, that it seemed as though he really cared about me (though I hardly knew him), and perhaps that triggered my emotions to listen to what he was saying.

    And, at that point, I would say God did a work in me. I didn't hear a full "presentation of the Gospel" as you might call it, but this guy asked me a few questions about the book I was reading, asked me my opinions about God and Jesus, and offered a few of his own. Throughout the next few days, it was in my mind quite a bit, and I realized that I had never taken the time to consider learning anything about Christianity with any sort of sincerity. I began to do some research on my own. I was surprised to come to the conclusion that, "OK, I see no reason as to why I can't investigate a little deeper. My brain's logic does not consider this an offense or an insult." I was actually surprised, as I thought completely and thoroughly debunking Christianity would be a simple task.

    It just so happened that a few days later was my birthday, so I didn't find it odd when my new friend stopped by my work place to give me a present. It was a Bible; it's sitting right next to me right now, actually.

    Once I began to read the Bible, the Holy Spirit convicted my heart. It was conviction I had never felt before, like I was finally seeing "truth" for the first time in my life. The authority in Christ's words astounded me. I then learned that I had broken God's laws, and I learned how to get saved. I learned of the incredible sacrifice. And when that hits you, let me tell you, you fall in love.

    And the more and more I read and studied, the more things would pop out and slap me in the face, like I finally understood.

    Looking back, the way it worked out was exactly like the Bible describes. It was all revealed to me after I was able to find the humility to consider it. And as I continued to seek Him, my life became a wonder. And as I learned the truth of the severity of God's judgment, I began to have a deep concern for those who do not believe.

    "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters."

    -Jesus

    "I will show you whom you should fear: fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him."

    -Jesus


    If I may ask, how old are you?

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  36. Sinner Saved,

    Thank you for your considered response.

    You said;

    "Wonderful; that conscience that convicts you daily is doing its job. It always will, too. It was put there by God."

    So you say, but I have no reason to believe that that is true. Really, besides your assertion; why should I believe that the conscience was put there by God?

    "That's the law that is written on your heart. Nobody has to tell us that killing someone else is wrong; it's inherent knowledge."

    Unless God specifically commands you to?

    "No animal shares that with us. We know it, in our hearts. But why, if it's the result of an evolutionary process?"

    My heart pumps blood around my body. My brain thinks and can comprehend the concept of altruism being a benefit, both to myself and to my species. What we call conscience or morality is a result of our highly evolved brains - this is what makes us unique (in the same way that bats hunting by sonar is what makes them unique) - and it has allowed us to develop culture and civilization.

    "Or, being promiscuous. That seems to be the perfect way to further our species."

    Human children are incredibly vulnerable when they are young and as such, are more likely to survive and be productive if they are raised under the care of attentive parents, this is true for all great apes, including humans. Promiscuity would lead to lots of under-nourished and under-developed children if everyone did it; it is not a beneficial survival trait.

    "Why moral hangups? Why STDs? It's a curious thing..."

    Why moral hangups? This is mainly due to the way people are raised - this is why we see cultural relativism around the world.

    Why STDs? Because viruses are trying to survive too. Did you know that many STDs have their roots in non-sexual infections and can be spread from mother to child and to monogamous partners?

    "Have you read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis?"

    I have read it. It's very well written but I found it to be unconvincing.

    "I'm certain you will have an explanation for it [conscience] from your point of view, but I contend that it's put there by God. And you must admit, if we have a conscience and it was put there by God, then it does seem reasonable to think that we'll be held accountable for its use."

    If your contention is correct then yes, we would be held accountable for its use - I'm not sure what the Christian stance is on those people who appear to lack a sense of empathy and show no remorse for horrific acts, or people with very different views on what is moral. It appears that not everyone has the Law 'written on their hearts', or at least, not everyone is aware of the Law in the same way.

    You then go on to your conversion testimony. Thank you for writing this out.

    You said;

    "And, at that point, I would say God did a work in me."

    And if you had not felt that God had done 'a work in you'? Would you have felt compelled to dig deeper?


    "Once I began to read the Bible, the Holy Spirit convicted my heart. It was conviction I had never felt before, like I was finally seeing "truth" for the first time in my life."

    Again, if upon reading the Bible, the Holy Spirit did not convict your heart, would you have believed the validity of the Truth?

    See, that's twice in your testimony that it appears like there was some sort of Divine 'intervention' to let you know you were on the right track and welcome you into belief - I have never felt anything even remotely close to that and from your next quote:

    "The authority in Christ's words astounded me. I then learned that I had broken God's laws, and I learned how to get saved."

    It appears that you had a good sense of God's presence BEFORE you knew you had broken His Laws and needed saving... the rest, as they say, is His Story.

    I read the Bible, I understood the nature of sin, I recognized my own sinful nature, I understood the purpose of the sacrifice on the Cross and the necessity for the blood of Jesus to wash me clean of my sins.

    What I didn't have, was any sense that any of this was real - although I kind of believed it was and WANTED it to be real. All I was asking for was something similar to one of the two encounters you described. Just something to let me know that I wasn't just whispering into the darkness. I got nothing.

    To clarify, I'm not 'angry' with God or being petulant because He didn't come when I called (although; 'knock and the door...'). I engaged in an honest attempt to connect with what I was raised to believe was there because I wanted a relationship with God. What I found out was that He isn't there.

    "If I may ask, how old are you?"

    How rude! Heh, I'm 26. You?

    Thanks,

    Matt

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  37. Matt,

    I think the fact that our conscience convicts us against and in spite of our human nature is evidence of a Creator, and that we even have a conscience and the fact that we're self-aware cannot be overstated. We're self-aware because we're created in His image. We do not have a conscience because of "highly evolved brains"... that reminds of the original sin. Pride and ego. God gives us something, and we act like we made it ourselves. This lets us tell ourselves we're greater than God, which is utterly foolish.

    And, really, it's tough to answer your questions regarding my conversion. It's tough because I can't speculate on what might have happened if it happened another way.

    I can tell you, however, that I did not realize it was the Holy Spirit working in me at first. I can only describe what I felt as an acute interest in, and regard for, the Word.

    Also, I was helped along by some resources God put in my path. I wrote a post a few days ago about Dr. J. Vernon McGee; his Thru The Bible radio ministry was essential in my learning the Word and the Gospel. God used him to speak to me and to teach me.

    I really admire that you want to talk it out, to explain things and to ask questions. I'm thoroughly enjoying our discussion.

    When you say, "I found out He isn't there," you are, in fact, incorrect. He was there with you then, and He is here today. And he'll accept you today if you turn to Him.

    Looking back on my story, it's easy to see how the Spirit worked in me, and how God led me to Him, because I understand it now. But then, I didn't understand it. I went by faith. Faith is a big part of it, you know. Christians will never prove scientifically that you have to believe on Christ to enter heaven. Atheists will never prove that the Bible is false, or that there is no God, or that Christ's salvation is a myth. God requires faith.

    Your next step, should you choose to take it, is a step of faith, not of anything tangible.

    When Peter saw Christ walking on water, and Christ told him to step out of the boat, it made no logical sense to have faith that he would do anything but sink. But the faith is what made him able to step out and walk on the water.

    Once this post is in my archives, please, feel free to keep posting. Or we can continue by email if you'd like. I know I would. I'm at WretchedSinnerSaved@gmail.com.

    I'm 25, by the way.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Sinner Saved, apologies for the length of this comment - maybe we should focus our discussion a bit?

    You said;

    "I think the fact that our conscience convicts us against and in spite of our human nature is evidence of a Creator, and that we even have a conscience and the fact that we're self-aware cannot be overstated."

    The fact that we have a conscience is evidence that we have a conscience. You may think that this has been attributed to us by God, but you have no evidence to suggest that this is the case.
    Many animals are self-aware, by the way, it is not a trait that is unique to humans.

    You're essentially looking at humanity and saying 'I think this attribute of humanity is evidence of a creator'. You could substitute any emotion or behaviour for 'conscience' and you'd still have the same amount of evidence to support your assertion; none.

    "We're self-aware because we're created in His image."

    According to your theology, we're self-aware because of the Fall, no? Adam and Eve didn't know they were naked until they ate the fruit.


    "We do not have a conscience because of "highly evolved brains"... that reminds me of the original sin. Pride and ego. God gives us something, and we act like we made it ourselves."

    At no point did I suggest that we 'made it [conscience] ourselves', I said it was a result of our highly evolved brains. It is not egotistical to point out general attributes of a species based on their evolutionary heritage. Would it be egotistical of a shark to think it can find food because of it's highly evolved sense of smell?

    Again, according to your theology, God didn't 'give us' our conscience, we took it from eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God actually withheld conscience from humanity.

    "This lets us tell ourselves we're greater than God, which is utterly foolish."

    Understanding where our physical and behavioural attributes comes from does not imply that we can think we're 'greater than God'. I don't think I'm greater than God (and I wouldn't, even if I thought He existed).

    "I can tell you, however, that I did not realize it was the Holy Spirit working in me at first. I can only describe what I felt as an acute interest in, and regard for, the Word."

    Can you see how, to the unbeliever, this might look like retrospective confirmation bias. You came to a belief in God, so you attribute your interest in the Word to the Holy Spirit because you know that's what's supposed to happen.

    I'm not saying this is what happened, I'm just asking you to realize that what you describe comes across differently depending on whether the person you're telling is saved or not.

    "Also, I was helped along by some resources God put in my path. I wrote a post a few days ago about Dr. J. Vernon McGee; his Thru The Bible radio ministry was essential in my learning the Word and the Gospel. God used him to speak to me and to teach me."

    Again, retrospective confirmation bias.


    "When you say, "I found out He isn't there," you are, in fact, incorrect. He was there with you then, and He is here today. And he'll accept you today if you turn to Him."

    'In fact'? 'He'll accept you today'?
    Pretty bold claims to make considering I did think it was a fact and I did turn to him for His acceptance. Unless you're telling me that I might not be aware of my salvation - I just have to trust that God's doing His thing?

    In that case, if you believe hard enough, an invisible, intangible bunny rabbit will manifest on your shoulder. You won't be able to see or feel him, but he'll be there if you have faith.

    You (and, I hope, everyone else) would not accept that as a reasonable proposition - why should I accept the proposition that you, and the Bible, sets out?

    "Looking back on my story, it's easy to see how the Spirit worked in me, and how God led me to Him, because I understand it now."

    Again, retrospective confirmation bias. And, again, I'm not saying this is what you are doing but, for the unbeliever, it would be impossible to tell the difference.


    "Faith is a big part of it, you know."

    I'm aware of this. I just feel that it is important to have a good reason to have faith in something (I have faith in my family because they've always - tangibly - been there for me in the past), blind faith, in my opinion, is not a good thing.

    "Christians will never prove scientifically that you have to believe on Christ to enter heaven. Atheists will never prove that the Bible is false, or that there is no God, or that Christ's salvation is a myth. God requires faith."

    You say God requires faith. But, as I said before, I'd have to believe He exists to put my faith in, before I put my faith in Him (if you see what I mean). You can't just go around randomly putting your faith in unsubstantiated assertions; if you did that, how would you know which faith would be the right one? You have to admit, their are a lot of false contenders out there - including those who claim to be Christian.

    "When Peter saw Christ walking on water, and Christ told him to step out of the boat, it made no logical sense to have faith that he would do anything but sink. But the faith is what made him able to step out and walk on the water."

    If I was in a boat with someone and they got out, walked on water and asked me to join them for a stroll; I'd do it. There would be tangible evidence that it was possible - right in front of me. Far more evidence than is available to us these days (which is kind of unfair, don't you think?)

    Sinner Saved,

    I want you to believe me when I tell you that I lack a belief in God (any god) because there is no good evidence to suggest that I should believe in God.

    All the 'evidence' I ever hear from Christians is either emotional pleading, threats of Hell, appeals to the authority of the God/Bible or assertions without substantiation.

    If God were real, the evidence of His existence would be irrefutable; especially for those who actually wanted to believe He exists.

    But hey, we're both still young and anything can happen...

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
  39. Matt,

    I admire your willingness to illustrate your opinions. At this point, though, it seems as though we are at a stalemate; this was bound to happen, I'm sure.

    I have chosen not to break your responses down point-by-point and refute them, though I could do it just as thoroughly as you counter mine, I think. But that practice makes for posts which read more like novels!

    It comes to this: do you want to have irrefutable evidence before you'll believe on Christ? Do you want to take that chance? It is evident to me that your soul is searching for a reason to believe. That says something.

    Matt, please, entertain your good judgment. Call it what you want; to me, the truth is that the Holy Spirit works in peoples' lives, just like He did in mine. You call it retrospective confirmation bias. When you look back and say that God didn't change you when you asked Him to, maybe that is a good example of retrospective confirmation bias. You are an atheist, after all.

    And I have no doubt that you hold "evidence" as an extremely important virtue in any belief you adopt. Well, have you understood the Bible? Have you read the hundreds of fulfilled prophecies? Do you find it strange that this world filled with "highly-evolved brains" can't, for all their best efforts, disprove the Bible, though it's lengthy, detailed, and old? Consider that, and then consider this statement you made:

    "In that case, if you believe hard enough, an invisible, intangible bunny rabbit will manifest on your shoulder. You won't be able to see or feel him, but he'll be there if you have faith."

    This is like the "spaghetti monster" propaganda...complete nonsense. This is an example of a gross over-compensation of a non-believer, hell-bent on justifying their lack of religion by any means necessary, even if those means are laughable to the rational mind.

    That's like me saying, "OK, these words that are popping up on my blog are responding to my postings...but, how do I know that there's really another person on the other end of them? I mean, what absolute evidence to I have? If Matt is a real person, why does he just type words to me. I've never heard his voice! I've never seen him! I won't believe it!

    I don't mean to be crass, friend...that's just how it struck me.

    Now, if you don't mind, I'd love to get to know you just a little bit more. Let me ask you: what are your hobbies? I take it by your British bulldog graphic (as well as your "s"s and "ou"s that you reside across the pond. Where do you live? I'm very curious, as this whole blogging thing is new to me.

    As I said before, once this post in relegated to the archives, just continue this conversation on this post in the archives, or send me an email. Whatever suits you.

    And, lastly: I couldn't let this go:

    "If God were real, the evidence of His existence would be irrefutable".

    This is the antithesis of faith, no? Matt, have some faith, man.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Sinner Saved (do you have a name?!),

    "I have chosen not to break your responses..."

    A couple of things;

    I only break your posts down like this because I like to make sure I don't miss any questions or interesting comments along the way - I guess I could edit down the comment I'm responding to (you know what you wrote, after all!)
    Secondly, I'm not really attempting to 'refute' the things you write, though I do try to offer rebuttals. I'm just enjoying the discussion, I'm not trying to prove you wrong or de-convert you or anything.

    "...do you want to have irrefutable evidence before you'll believe in Christ? ... your soul is searching for a reason to believe."

    This may come as a shock to you; but I don't believe in souls either, sorry! I'm not necessarily asking for irrefutable evidence, just enough evidence to be reasonable about.

    "When you look back and say that God didn't change you when you asked Him to, maybe that is a good example of retrospective confirmation bias. You are an atheist, after all."

    You are exactly right, I have the same problem with confirmation bias as everyone else. I do try and be as open and humble as I can be regarding my own limitations and try and look at every new experience without bias - it's hard, but I do try to be intellectually honest. Please feel free to point out anything I say that is inconsistent or lacks evidence, I would appreciate it.

    "This is like the "spaghetti monster" propaganda...complete nonsense... those means are laughable to the rational mind."

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is parody not propaganda. The point of it is to illustrate that un-evidenced beliefs cannot carry any weight in the real world (especially when it comes to education). Creationists believe they know how the world was made, but the assertion is no different - in terms of supporting evidence - to the claims of the Pastafarians. It is not an attempt to justify unbelief, it is an attempt to show why unsubstantiated beliefs should not dictate curriculum.

    My example was ridiculous, and deliberately so, but it is intended to show how unreasonable it is to expect people to take assertions at face value, rather than them request that the assertion is backed up by evidence.

    You go on to say;

    "This is the antithesis of faith, no? Matt, have some faith, man."

    Which is exactly my point. I could tell you to 'have some faith, man' about any number of things that you would - rightfully - reject due to lack of evidence to support them. What I'm saying is; what makes your assertion (that God is real and Christ died for our sins) any different from a million others? Why should I have some faith, man?


    About me:
    I am, indeed, an Englishmen. I currently live in Canada and my all-encompassing hobby at the moment is raising my 8 week old Rottweiler.

    I'm most active, online, on the SMRT forums where, I'm sure, you would be most welcome. We have atheists, deists and theists (including Christians and Mormons) and are currently engaged in a Bible Study group (we're up to Genesis 18, I think).

    You can find it at wearesmrt.com

    (the name is intended to be a response to the claim that atheists think they know everything and are all intellectual types - our theme tune is Homer Simpson singing "I am so smart, I am so smart, S-M-R-T, I mean S-M-A-R-T!" Self-depreciation and all that.)

    Take care Sinner Saved,

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
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