Sunday, October 27, 2013

the skeptical atheist

That's what I used to be.  Having grown up with exposure to the Presbyterian Church then the Methodist Church, I have had enough education to at least consider the idea that atheism might be incorrect.  Although there were many years that I did not attend church or even give it much thought, I always left the option open.  From a practical standpoint, to flat out deny and profess that there is no God is rather foolish and shortsighted given the fact that religion has such a major presence in the world...not to mention its' importance in the founding of our country.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who professed to be an atheist because even though he attended church as a young man - it just "didn't stick".  He has decided there simply in not a God.  It was not a situation where a debate should happen but I began to think about just why I think there is a God because it is important to share that information under the right circumstances.

To just flat out say there is no God and be wrong has horrible consequences.  To say yes there is a God (and that there is evil in the world because of Satan) and be right and follow the teachings of the Bible, leads to eternal life.  In my recent past: maybe there really is a God and I should look hard for Him by studying the Bible, history, and prophecy - saying prayers and giving thanks and praise and observing the outcome of that communication - and listening closely to teachings of Christians I respect.  Ultimately,  His existence has become obvious to me with just an open mind and a little effort on my part.   Although I now know God is real...for the sake of argument, there is another outcome to consider.  To say there is a God and be wrong.  If everyone jumped on that bandwagon yet it turned out to be a false hope, by following the greatest commandments we would all ultimately die a final death but at least there would be heaven on earth.

Mark 12:29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear , O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this , Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.


Chris Miller said...

I'll have to disagree with your "heaven on earth" comment. We have widespread religion now and all we have it hatred, contempt and condemnation for anyone who doesn't share the exact same beliefs. That's why we also get to enjoy countless religious wars and elitism and extremism from the more extreme religious folk among us.

I tend to look at things differently... see, when you don't believe you go to a better place after death, you tend to act a lot better and do all you can with this one life. To me, THAT would be "heaven on earth" - if everyone thought that way. I've met more atheists who act "Christian" than I have true Christians.

For now we'll just enjoy what we have though and it's not a pretty sight.

I agree with your comment about saying there is no god though. That's about as asinine as proclaiming we know there is a god. The truth is - we do not know and that's all any of us can claim.

justastick said...

Being an electrician an dealing all my life with something I could not see ,has left me with a great respect for God. God is infinity, religion is man made .There is no way to prove to me that God does not exist.

rpm said...

Religion and God are not related.

God is.

Religion is man's corrupt and erroneous interpretation of who God is, for man's gain.

Faith in God is man's knowledge of who God is, for God and man's gain.

Mama Crow said...

I have determined you are a Brother, Mr Wells, and that makes me smile.

Larry G said...

Good comments here about the difference between religion and God.

I believe in God. I do not believe in Religion and I especially dislike strident ideological versions of religion.

I do not feel the need to proselytize to others. Why should I believe that I have found the right path and others have not to start with?

Churches to me should be about helping others - to help others help themselves but you don't need religious doctrine or orthodoxy to be charitable towards those less fortunate - just the goodness that God gave you to be loved as a child for no reason other than being a child.

somehow we lose that as we get older and become far less kind towards others different from us.

and organized Religion - not all of it - but a good part of it - does not engender a charitable attitude towards others but instead a hostility if they are "different" politically ... and that's not what God was or is about and yet Religion has become.

Larry G said...


pamit said...

Sadly, there are many examples of leaders, countries, visionaries trying to make everyone accept Christianity (or Islam) in order to create that "heaven on earth" that you mention, John. A much better tactic would be for an organized religion to welcome everyone and anyone in, and to accept that good people can have other systems of belief. But as far as I know, only Buddhists do that (although what's happening in Myanmar is a distressing puzzle). Buddhism according to some accounts is the fastest growing religion in the western world. Why? I guess you would say it's the devil at work. But I think it more likely that people see Islam, Christianity, and Judaism as powerful organizations that often do terrible things in order to prevail in this world. said...

I love your Sunday message. I have been e-mailing with a group that I was in the service with. We have been discussing the same issue; God and religion are two totally different things. Most of what passes in the eyes of people as religion is Satan giving people an excuse to turn against God. I also was where you were and am where you are now. I am thankful we are in the same family.
Your brother,

LizB said...

If I may, I would like to comment on Chris Miller's comment.

You can't make the sweeping generalization that all religions perpetuate hatred, war, etc. Actually, history reveals atheism to be the greatest of offenders. For example: Pol Pot murdered an estimated 1 to 3 million people; Hitler murdered an estimated 15 to 20 million people; Stalin murdered an estimated 7 million people; Mao murdered an estimated 50-80 million people.

The idea that the lack of belief in life after death promotes morality is faulty. The above list is a prime example of that. Yes, non-believers can be good, peaceful people but their position is subjective, or influenced by mere human opinion; not influenced by objective truth (truth unswayed by human opinion).

I will grant you that there are religions that promote hate and violence but we must be willing to look at what belief system a person/group adheres to, what text is that belief system based upon, what exactly does that text endorse, and do they adhere to the teachings of the text. Only then can we draw reasonable conclusions regarding that specific belief system. Christianity does not fit into the category that you've placed it. Yes, Christianity can be used for evil but to do this requires one to distort and pervert the text (Scripture). Hitler did this to gain support from Christians.

Last, your statement that we cannot know if there is a god is a claim that I would like to see you support. I'm happy to share with you why the belief in God is something that *can be supported but I'm interested in starting with how you would logically support that it cannot be known.

mary lee said...

Mr Wells. I look forward to reading what you write, especially your thoughts on a Sunday. The peace and the quiet you live in must help your thoughts all come together. I wish you all the best Mr Wells. Your posts on a Sunday gives me something to ponder all week. Thank you.

Nofretz said...

None of them killed because of atheism. They didn't go to war because they disbelieved in God.

Ron K said...

Chris Miller, unfortunately you, like many others who will gladly & vociferously agree with you--are confusing religion (and all the ugly characteristics that come with it) with Christianity.

BBC, you are not only vulgar, unimaginative in your vocabulary, and just plain mean--but quite possibly clinically insane.

John Wells, blessed are those that are persecuted because of His name. So, God bless you:)

K1MGY said...

God doesn't pay the bills.

cindylouwho too said...

I am a Christian but I am not "religious". I am nowhere near perfect nor will I ever be but I do try to live in a way that in pleasing to my God. I fail Him constantly but I do try. For those who do not share my belief in God, I say a prayer for you. I would rather live my life believing in God and be wrong in the end than to live NOT believing and be
"left behind" when He comes back to claim His children. It's called "free will". You do have a choice. No one should condemn anyone for their beliefs.

Romans 12:18-21
King James Version (KJV)

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

fartymarty said...

Either you have faith and believe or you don't. One doesn't need to prove there is no God to be an atheist, one only needs to believe that there is no God. If I could just push a button and become a God believer, I would. What a wonderful thing it would be, to do your best, and then just let go of it and leave it up to God. That alone without the carrot and stick of eternal life in heaven or eternal damnation to hell would be enough to want and desire faith. I can't do that but I would if I could. I just don't know how to force myself to believe something I don't. Before you tell me to open my heart etc etc, be prepared to tell me exactly and specifically what that entails. Even though I don't believe anyone was listening I have prayed in the blind for such faith several times and received nothing in return. This is where the believers usually tell me that God spoke to me, I just wasn't listening...whatever. If a God speaks to me and I don't hear the all powerful, all loving, all knowing omnipotent's my fault? As an atheist, if I had the information to prove that there is no God, I would keep it to myself! There is nothing to be gained by disappointing so many and removing comfort from their lives. It would be like forcing them to take the red pill instead of offering the choice of the blue pill. Hopefully it doesn't appear I'm trying sell atheism. I'm not. Just trying to show those that have faith that always seem to be so baffled as to why atheists chose to be atheists, we didn't ever see where we were offered a choice. One could say God made us this way, or not. If you believe in God, then go with God. If you don't believe in God, then better luck tomorrow. ;)