Certainty

question-mark.gifI’m revising and re-running this in (dis)honor of the commenter who trotted out the straw man about the “supposed certainties of conservative-traditional Christianity.” Eek! 

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It seems I have have acquired a little Internet “fan club” that likes to dismiss me for being so certain about things.  I can’t miss the irony of them being certain that I am certain about some things, and them being certain that it is bad to be certain.  And their comments and posts reveal a high degree of confidence in their positions. 

It reminds me of a NY Times guy who said, “Certainty is the enemy of decency.”  He seemed most certain of this, so I appreciate him confessing to being indecent. 

It also reminds me of a lady at my church who chided me for wearing jeans to service once (I had a nice shirt on, but wore jeans because our Sunday School class was cooking gumbo after church for a fundraiser).  I was in a class with this lady a couple years ago and she had no issues with people spouting heresies about Jesus not being God, the Bible having lots of errors and there being many paths to Heaven besides Jesus.  But there is apparently at least one thing she is certain about: You shouldn’t wear jeans to church!  But she was pro-choice — especially when the unborn might be poor or unwanted — so I suppose she had her priorities in order, eh?  (I gave her a gracious way out by pointing out the gumbo situation.  And I chuckled when a visitor sat next to me and was wearing jeans.  Hopefully my fashion faux pas made him feel more comfortable amidst the suits and Dockers).

But the truth is, there are plenty of things I’m not certain about, and I’ve changed my views on plenty of topics.

Oh, I am quite sure about the essentials of Christianity: Jesus is God, He is the only way to salvation, the Bible is authoritative and reliable, etc.  I have studied these exhaustively and am quite sure of my positions.  That doesn’t mean I couldn’t be wrong, but it does mean I have a reason for my confidence.

But there are plenty of issues where I freely admit to being uncertain, or at least not completely certain (the particulars of predestination, for example) and there are plenty of issues where I have opinions but don’t care enough to divide over them (the particulars of baptism and communion, worship styles, etc.).  I’m actually pretty liberal as those things go. 

And while I go to a Methodist Church the Podcasts I listen to are almost all in different theological camps (Reformed or Bible Church/Baptist).  I’m sort of a Bad Methodist in that respect.  I have a lot of respect for Reformed theology and and am probably 60/40 Calvinist / Arminian.  But just mention Calvinism to most theological liberals and see how open minded and tolerant they are. 

So I focus on the fundamentals and am undecided or ambivalent on most non-essentials.  If they want to gig me for that, that’s fine.  But they should at least be accurate. 

There are all sorts of verses in the Bible pointing out how we can know things and are meant to know them.  Not all things, but many things.  One theological liberal once quoted the first part of this verse to emphasize how fuzzy things supposedly are:

1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.

To his credit, he seemed to concede the point when I pointed out the rest of the verse:

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Or how about this one?

John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I could go on and on.  Search for “know” in some Bible software and see how many passages point out this truth (there I go being certain again!). 

People who resort to attacks like this aren’t well suited for dialogue.  One even thought the piece I did on Who can understand the Bible? was fundy red meat — presumably because the passage I used showed how it was possible to understand the Bible.  I sincerely prayed that they would come to know the Truth and be set free. 

So the whole certainty straw man isn’t about dogma at all.  It is just another cheap trick to dismiss opposing views instead of debating them on their merits.

P.S. To state the obvious, when I write about something it is usually because I think I know something about it or have formed an opinion about it.  I don’t write pieces to tell you what I don’t know.  Does that seem so odd?

0 thoughts on “Certainty”

  1. Great post, Neil!! People who have that argument are kind of silly aren’t they! 🙂 And wow to the lady about the jeans thing!! 😯 Does she really think Jesus cares that much what we have on while we’re WORSHIPING Him!?!?

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  2. I agree with you Neil.

    Certainty is the only thing we have until we’re proven otherwise. This is why dialogue is important. People should be as persuasive as they can be. But to question one’s honesty, (i.e. you’re faking your certainty) is not appropriate.

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  3. Too many people are absolutely certain of too many things, or so it seems to me… I can’t be certain. But this I do know: If Jesus is not who He said He was, then He is a liar, or at best a lunatic; and no one can know anything… for certain, that is.

    “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” –I John 5:13

    According to far too many people we can’t even be absolutely certain of THAT either.

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  4. I think it is hard to tell the difference between certainty and faith.

    There are a lot of people who think they are certain when what they really have is misplaced faith. They will tell you they don’t believe in faith, of that they are certain.

    Some people have told me that you must wear good clothes to church because you give your best to God. Well my fashion sense is not my best part and I plan to take my clothes back home with me.

    Great post as usual.

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  5. “I plan to take my clothes back home with me.”

    Thanks for the laugh!

    Usually I dress business casual but sometimes wear a suit and tie for old time’s sake. The main thing for all is modest dress (the Bible does speak of that).

    I think it is all about motive. If people dress up to honor God, that is great. But I actually like going where there is a spectrum where visitors of all kinds wouldn’t feel out of place dress-wise.

    Great verses, EL!

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  6. Seems there was an old cowboy that came into the city one Sunday morning to go to church. He happened to go by one of the largest, most beautiful churches he’d ever seen, so he decided to go in to worship. He was dressed in his cleanest jeans & shirt with his best boots & string tie.

    When he went in he noticed that he was being stared at by dozens of people all dressed in their coats, ties & dresses. He sat in the back row & was completely ignored by everyone.

    After the service, the minister came up to the old cowboy & asked:

    “Do you think you’re appropriately dressed for this congregation?”

    The cowboy said nothing so the minister said:

    “I want you to go home & pray this week & ask God how you think you should dress for this church?”

    The cowboy nodded & went home & prayed.

    The following week the old cowboy went back to the church, again dressed in his best, cleanest jeans, shirt, boots & string tie.

    This time, before the service even began, the minister went up to the cowboy & loudly said:

    “I thought I told you to go home & ask God about how to dress for this church?”

    “I did”, said the old cowboy.

    “And what did He tell you”, asked the minister.

    The old cowboy looked the minister right in the eye & said’

    “God told me He wouldn’t know how to dress in this church. He’s never been in here”

    Have a great day.

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  7. When I was in high school, the church I attended adopted “casual attire” on Sunday nights. This meant jeans were ok.

    One Sunday morning, 1 or 2 youths wore jeans. One of the church leaders told the youth that if they were going to wear jeans, they could come back Sunday night, but that Sunday mornings were for dressier clothes.

    This helped drive me and other youths away from the church and, to my regret, away for several years. The hypocrisy of that leader was easy to see.

    Since then, I’ve come to realize that, while he was a hypocrite, I’ve been just as bad. Maybe I haven’t committed that particular sin, but I’ve committed others, just as bad.

    When an older person speaks to a saved adult this way, the saved adult should be able to take it (like you did Neil). But when they speak to an unsaved person or to a young Christian, they need to be very careful.

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  8. Hi Neil,
    Great post. It reminds me of a lady that accused me of always thinking I was right. Well, yes. If I thought I was wrong, I would change my position. Just didn’t make a lot of sense to me to espouse something that I thought was wrong. 🙂

    As for jeans in church, I just preached upon that this past Sunday, however, I didn’t hold the position many hold to for the following reason: when we gather in corporate worship, we are meeting in the holy of holies with our King, Creator, Savior, Friend, etc. He is DUE the most honor, reverence, awe and respect we can give Him. If jeans are the best we can do, then so be it. But if not, then we need to wear our best to meet with Him. (I’m only writing concerning corporate worship, not other functions of the church).

    The issue really isn’t what we wear as much as the attitude we have when we meet with Him. We need to prepare for worship both inwardly and outwardly. This means that during the week we are praying about worship, praying for the pastor and the sermon, praying for our hearts. We are giving forethought to our preparation, both inwardly and outwardly. This means that we prepare beforehand for worship. I wear my best, because I’m meeting with the King. I want to show Him I respect Him and honor Him with my best.

    The question to ask is: If you were meeting with the president (be it Dem or Rep), how would you dress? How would you prepare? Given that Jesus is far more superior to any president we have ever had, or will have, then how should we dress? How should we prepare? Far too many tend to forget this and think it so common, they forget to prepare.

    The danger comes about in this, and this what I think most of you are writing against, when we think that what we wear prepares us for worship, making it purely an external preparation alone. That is when what we wear becomes hypocrisy. Very subtle and dangerous, but all things do matter.

    The other danger in all this are those who pride themselves in wearing jeans. We have a church here in town that advertises to this effect. What they are trying to say is: We don’t have a dress code. But I’m told if you wear a suit to their worship, they will approach you about wearing such, and will suggest that next time, come in jeans. They do have a dress code, it’s just sloppy.

    Blessings

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  9. The reason they attack your “certainty” is because you ACTUALLY use the Bible to form your opinions.

    Their purpose is to attack the validity of Scripture by asking as the old reptile did 20,000 years ago: “Did God really say…?”

    They can’t argue against His Word per se, because they KNOW they’re wrong, they just want to plant the seed of doubt and watch some one stumble into sin.

    Of this… I am certain. 🙂

    Isn’t wearing jeans to protect your good suit from the messes of cooking, (being a servant to others), being a good steward of the nice gifts God gave you?
    All I know is that it is VERY easy for an uncomfortable woman wearing panty hose and probably a girdle to ENVY those comfortable ones wearing jeans and “dressed down.”

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  10. UHM Timothy,
    I typically agree with your position. In this instance, Neil had a valid reason he was wearing jean to church. He was cooking and serving others following worship for a fundraiser for church function. Seems to me that that service for the Kingdom would put a person into the proper mindset for the worship of our Lord.

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  11. Elisa,
    Yes, I could see his point. There are times where jeans are fine. But for the most part, we want to dress for the KING, and even in some cases, that IS wearing jeans. What I’m addressing is the attitude that since Jesus is my friend, I can wear whatever I want to, whenever I want to.

    I agree that He is our friend, He is a friend of sinners. But He is also King and deserves the respect of one. I’m not setting up a law here, as much as I’m trying to cultivate an attitude, or a principle in which we gather for and in worship.

    The idea is that we think about what we are doing, giving Him forethought and reverence.

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  12. Timothy, I’m not sure I agree with your position regarding appropriate attire for church.

    For one thing, the new covenant made clear that what we eat isn’t important, so I don’t see how what we wear is important, particularly when, in Matthew 6, Jesus explicitly taught us not to worry about what we eat or what we wear. The focus on clothing — to say nothing of your assertion that church is the “holy of holies” — suggests a return to life under the old covenant of the Old Testament.

    And, for another, I absolutely agree that God deserves more glory than any president or earthly king, but such comparisons can lead to conclusions that clearly contradict the Bible. If we’re supposed to dress at least as nicely for God as we do for the president, surely how we address Him should be at least as formal: if we call other human beings “Mr. President” and “Your Majesty,” what do we call God? Should we not call Him by far more formal titles?

    Christ gave us an answer that shocks even today: in His model prayer, He invoked Abba, a term of such familial intimacy that the modern “Daddy” is a closer fit that even “Father.”

    I can see two Scriptural bases for answering the question, “How should I dress for church?”

    1) The Greatest Commandment should inform our entire lives, including how we dress, for church and elsewhere. But while wearing deliberately sloppy attire to church might not be (and probably isn’t) consistent with “Love God with all your heart”, the implications of the command allows for a great deal of flexibility.

    2) The second greatest commandment should also inform our decisions. Paul’s teaching about eating meat offered to idols can be applied here: how we dress shouldn’t cause other Christians to stumble, but surely that can apply both to dressing too casually and dressing too formally, right? Would your wearing a tuxedo to church really have no negative impact on a poor neighbor’s decision to come to church?

    But what about the question, “How should everyone else dress for church?” For that I go back to Romans 14:4 and Paul’s discussion on Christian fasting.

    “Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. “

    In the New Testament, we are certainly called to reject teachers of false doctrine, and we are taught how to deal with church members who sin against the church, but these issues don’t touch the subject of attire unless someone wrongly argues that certain attire (formal or sloppy) is Biblically necessary or someone wears some provocative clothes with the intent to scandalize people. With exceptions such as these, I think the question of attire is something to be worked out between the individual and his Lord.

    It’s correct to teach that Christians should love and revere God wholeheartedly, and that they should prepare for worship when they come to church, having God (and their Christian brothers!) in mind when deciding whether to shower and whether to wear dingy clothes before going to church.

    Teaching all that would likely lead most church members to dress reasonably, but I don’t think it follows that denim is forbidden, and I think the reasons you briefly outlined for believing otherwise are problematic.

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  13. Timothy, I didn’t see your follow-up when I was typing the previous comment, so I would ask that you keep that fact in mind when reading it.

    I think reverence for God is both good and necessary, however:

    1) It should be tempered with a realization of the intimacy Christ has made possible. God is with us everywhere, not just in church, and we are taught to address Him as our Father when we pray, even as we acknowledge that He is a King whose kingdom we should desire.

    2) With exceptions such as obvious and deliberate provocation, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with how other Christians dress, because their attire could be a genuine expression of a right relationship with God; because we are under a new covenant where what we eat and wear is simply no longer important; and because we are in no position to pass judgment on their hearts based on their pants.

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  14. Hi Bubba,
    Very good points. But I don’t think we are that far off in our positions. Again, my issue comes with the attitude. I believe that our attitudes should reflect our entire being as believers.

    I had one man write me and ask me if seminary prepared me for holistic ministry. No, it didn’t. But the gospel covers it. When we do all for the glory of God, then even how we dress does matter, because it shows our attitude towards God.

    Yes, I agree that Christ is telling us not to worry, but I think the context is more along the lines of: don’t worry about your clothing, for God will provide, NOT don’t worry about what you wear to worship. Remember the woman who poured spikenard on Him, honored Him greatly with her best. She didn’t bring the cheap Old Spice with her.

    No, clothing does not make me more righteous or less righteous. But it should reflect the inner heart and attitude before I gather in worship.

    As for the Old Covenant, all aspects of it have not been thrown out with the New. There is continuity and discontinuity between the old and the new. So we don’t throw out the entirety of the old covenant simply because we are under the new covenant. For example, the Ten Word (Commandments) are still true for the new just as much as they were for the old. Yet, we no longer live under the sacrificial system, since Christ satisfied that aspect of the old covenant. We don’t have to meet in Jerusalem at the temple for true worship. We don’t have to stay in the court of the Gentiles, for by His mediatorial work, we are all invited into the holy of holies.

    Is there something we can learn about our approaching the holy of holies from our forefathers under the old covenant? Yes, I believe so. They saw it as an honor and privilege (the OT saints), and prepared themselves for that honor. We too can learn from that, and this is why we are to prepare our hearts for worship. This preparation is to be filled with forethought for that privilege. (Again, I’m speaking to the issues of corporate worship which is different from private or family worship.)

    What we wear does matter because it does send a message. This is why God had the OT priests dress as they did. Each item had a message. This is why they cleansed themselves the way they did. It showed them how sinful they were, and how dirty they were. Do we need to physically cleanse ourselves in order to be clean? Thank goodness, no. But that doesn’t keep me from cleansing myself outwardly as part of the inner reality of who I am in Christ.

    blessings

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  15. Again, allow me to stress that denim is not forbidden. But is it my best? (Given that my wife says jeans no longer fit me well 🙂 ). No. What is? Well, my $300 suit. In the world of suits, not very expensive.

    What else is my best? For me, putting on my robe before I preach. Why? Because of what it says to the congregation. I’m not here as your friend, or neighbor, but as your pastor, proclaiming the truth for God. The robe draws attention away from my $25 tie, and my $30 shirt. Once you’ve seen it, it becomes less of a distraction.

    The point is that I’m standing their for God proclaiming His truth and I want what I wear to reflect that. When I just attend church, I want to reflect that reality that God has redeemed me from the mass of humanity and allowed me to enter into His holy of holies to worship Him. Because of this special relationship I have with Him, and those around me, I want to look my best.

    BTW, at Presbytery this past week, our guest speaker preached without a tie on. His luggage had been lost by the airlines. He was preaching in his best, and it was fine and dandy with all those there. Worship proceeded… and I believe HE was glorified.

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  16. To be clear, I didn’t say the old covenant was discarded altogether, but the New Testament is clear that we do not live under that new covenant: we are justified by grace and not the law, and we live according to the Spirit and not the law, the ceremonial sacrifices predicted Christ’s truly effacacious once-and-for-all sacrifice, and the regulations that governed external cleanliness prefaced the true internal purity that the Holy Spirit makes possible.

    And while I agree that Christianity should color one’s entire life — because Christ wants not our time or our resources, but ourselves — it is most certainly NOT holistic in the sense that it prescribes every aspect of our lives.

    Christianity doesn’t teach us what food is clean and when it should be eaten: instead it minimizes the importance of food as a subject.

    It’s not what enters the mouth that makes us unclean. What we eat does not matter unless it has a direct impact on our relationships, such as when eating meat offered to idols could cause a Christian brother to stumble.

    Our attitudes definitely matter and definitely should impact how we dress, among a million other things, but reasonable people can disagree on the exact nature of that impact, so I don’t think it’s productive in this case to turn the focus from the attitude to the action, or to turn from the message’s content to its form.

    It is important that Christians prepare their hearts for corporate worship: wearing what is literally their most expensive attire is not a necessary consequence of that preparation.

    It is important that laymen understand that, during his message, the pastor is (or should be) trying to communicate God’s truth rather than his own ideas: wearing a robe is not the only way to convey this message; it may not even be the most effective way to convey this message.

    I’m reminded, honestly, of some reactionary political conservatives who believe that the line has been too far obscured between childhood and adulthood, and that current fashion reflects that fact. While I agree with this observation, I think they’re off their rocker if they think the solution is people wearing hats again.

    More seriously, I’m reminded of Christianity’s frequent habit of reverting back to Old-Testament thinking. The Apostles had to correct churches in their time, making clear that circumcision and kosher food is not needed for discipleship.

    The OT established priests as mediators between God and man, through Jesus we need no other mediators (as Hebrews explains), but too many churches think that we should ask dead saints to intercede for us.

    The OT established a levitical priesthood that was separate from the rest of Ancient Israel, through Jesus we are all now part of a royal priesthood, but too many churches think we need to go to priests for confession and absolution.

    In His teaching, Jesus contrasted Himself to a school of thought that made the traditional understanding of Scripture preeminent over Scripture itself: He rejects what “you have heard” but appeals to Scripture as final. Now, too many churches believe that capital-T Tradition is authoritative.

    And, Jesus made clear that what is important is the condition of our souls, not external cleanliness.

    I find it worrying that you explicitly and repeatedly compare the Christian church to the Jewish priesthood in matters of attire, because I don’t think God came and died and provided us with His Holy Spirit for us to worry so much about what we wear to church and — in effect — recreate Jewish nitpickery.

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  17. Elisa,
    “The reason they attack your “certainty” is because you ACTUALLY use the Bible to form your opinions.

    Their purpose is to attack the validity of Scripture by asking as the old reptile did 20,000 years ago: “Did God really say…?”

    They can’t argue against His Word per se, because they KNOW they’re wrong, they just want to plant the seed of doubt and watch some one stumble into sin.

    Of this… I am certain.”

    Makes good sense to me too hehe 🙂

    As far as clothing, I really don’t want to get too deeply in to the iscussion myself, but I will say this:
    Our attire can reflect our attitude and view of God since our attire is at least partly set by our attitude and view of God. Specific attire is determined on a case by case basis, but in gernal, make sure you have the right attitude and view of God and likely you will have the right attire. 🙂

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  18. Re. clothes – I threw that in at the last minute, but glad it stimulated some interesting discussions! That is a topic I’m not “certain” about so I would lean towards a Romans 14 approach (i.e., if it is an issue for you, then do what you think is right).

    It can be an important topic because of who might feel excluded. Our pastor’s daughter just returned from a mission trip to Haiti and noted how some people want to attend church but don’t because they can’t afford “nice” clothes.

    Having said that, I generally try to look good (though not usually a suit/tie since most don’t wear that). I agree that the approach we take to worship is more important than the clothes, and I often wrestle with distractions that make my approach less than stellar.

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  19. Ha! The funny thing is that I hate gumbo and wasn’t thrilled with the fundraiser concept. I was just going along with the Sunday School class project.

    Enjoyed your blog, Darren. Your subtitle raised a good point (“Why isn’t palindrome spelled the same way forwards and backwards?”), to which I would add, “Why does the word monosyllabic have five syllables?”

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  20. Neil, I think it is related to the reason that there is only one word for Thesaurus.

    Timothy, you asked whether one would wear jeans to meet the President. I just have one question in response: “Are we meeting on his ranch?” 😉

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  21. Returning to the topic of certainty…

    I’ve been getting a real kick out of Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism, which argues against the far too common slander that American conservatives are fascist. He argues that American Progressivism came from the same intellectual “moment” as Russian Bolshevism, Italian Fascism, and German Nazism. Further, the direct intellectual heir to Progressivism — the contemporary American political philosophy that is called “liberalism” but bears little relation to classical liberalism — exhibits tendencies that are less overtly aggressive but are no less accurately described as small-f fascist, which Goldberg describes as a totalitarian (or “holistic”) religion of the state.

    He argues that even those who count themselves as conservative, such as Pat Buchanan and George W. Bush, have apparently been tempted to that secular religion, as demonstrated by what is essentially big-government conservatism: Buchanan’s “conservatism of the heart”, Bush’s “compassionate conservatism”, and now the “heroic conservatism” of Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson. It is when American conservatism remains true to its principles — particularly limited government, a government that is limited both in its goals and in its means, limited by a consistent interpretation of a written constitution — that it is least like fascism.

    I mention all this because, in 2004, Goldberg wrote an article that tied into the writing of this book and ultimately makes the same point that Neil does here. In the article, here he emphasizes the importance of dogma and makes the same obvious criticism of Anthony Lewis’ comment in the NY Times, that “certainty is the enemy of decency and humanity in people who are sure they are right, like Osama bin Laden and John Ashcroft.”

    Now, in many respects, this is the intellectual equivalent of some of the stunts on Fear Factor: It’s impressive precisely because of the audacity of its stupidity.

    This is freshman-year forensics, but that’s really all that is necessary for the task. If certainty is the enemy of decency and humanity, one presumes Lewis isn’t that certain he’s right — for certainty is the sun to the intellectual’s Icarus wings, according to Lewis. Therefore (to take just one example), one assumes the most decent people were those who were the least — or certainly not the most — sure that Nazism should be defeated. And, one should ask, why was Lewis the Times’s most consistently liberal voice, if certainty is the enemy of decency? Would not a man opposed to certainty find himself changing his mind from time to time?

    He continues:

    And this is where my renewed faith in dogma comes from. Without getting too deep in the weeds, dogmas are simply values or principles that cannot be proven, but that we accept as true or divinely decreed (and therefore true). Chesterton and Hayek explain to us that the right dogma is just as liberating — if not more so — as bad dogma is oppressive.

    After noting that those who supposedly oppose dogma are quite dogmatic about issues like censorship and torture, he concludes:

    Those who say they dislike dogma — or “certainty” — tend to be liars, hypocrites, or simply wrong. What they really dislike is the dogma of those they disagree with.

    How does this all relate to my book? Well, that’s easy. A society that was certain, certain beyond all certainty, that putting its citizens in death camps was wrong, would never put people in death camps. Such things are only possible when you’re open to new ideas.

    It’s an excellent article, really, and Jonah’s point can be applied to our frequent theological discussions here.

    First, about the existence of God, some atheists who have visited have been just as dogmatic about their unbelief as we are about our faith: perhaps more so, because, knowing the difficulties in proving a universal negative, they strongly reject any requests to disprove God’s existence but in their sneering ridicule they act as if the case has been already made. They treat the truth of their position as obvious even as they admit that proof cannot be offered.

    They’re sometimes equally dogmatic about science or empiricism, as if nothing is true unless science can conclude thus or unless empirical evidence can be offered to prove it, and as if nothing can be known outside these very limited disciplines: never mind that this belief that heralds science and empiricism as uniquely authoritative sources of knowledge can never be justified scientifically or empirically.

    And beyond all this, good dogma can be liberating, and unthinkable atrocities can be made possible by rejecting dogma in order to be open to new ideas. I won’t suggest that those atheists who have visited here are evil beyond our common depravity — though some popular atheist writers do seem to be eager to find what could be called a “final solution” to the problem of the religious faithful — but their belief system requires them to try to explain our universal moral obligations through naturalistic, usually evolutionary mechanisms.

    But naturalism can’t explain morality: it can only explain it away, which is I we believe naturalism logically leads to nihilism. At this point, I don’t see many atheists actively rejecting morality, but their beliefs inevitably undermine our acceptance of morality as dogmatic. It’s good to still live by the Golden Rule even if one undermines faith that the rule is dogma, but once that faith is gone, adherence to that rule becomes a personal perference, and that increases the likelihood that he or others will reject traditional morality in favor of a horrifying system of ethics.

    As Goldberg shows, we’ve already seen large-rejections of traditional morality in the last century — really, we’ve seen it time and again since the French Revolution — and we’ve seen the evil fruit that is the result.

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  22. Hi Bubba – excellent analysis – thanks for the wisdom!

    “But naturalism can’t explain morality: it can only explain it away, which is I we believe naturalism logically leads to nihilism.”

    Great quote!

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  23. Hi Bubba, hope you enjoyed your week off from my stalking. I’d like to dissent from your praise of dogma; first a couple smaller points:

    Bubba said: I won’t suggest that those atheists who have visited here are evil beyond our common depravity — though some popular atheist writers do seem to be eager to find what could be called a “final solution” to the problem of the religious faithful —

    This is a bit loose with definitions mere moments after crying slander! The only final solution any of them advocates is “conversational intolerance.” None has suggested anything remotely like prosecution for thought crimes, let alone violence against the faithful except in self-defense. Their interest, to a man, is in a war of ideas. They all hope to erode our society’s knee-jerk reverence for belief without evidence, and indeed some of them would be delighted if we outgrew supernaturalism. Would you not be glad to see most people accept Jesus? That’s no less a “final solution,” and a rather more sinister one since it aims at much less intellectual diversity.

    As for considerations of State intervention, as a last resort, in cases of psychological child abuse: all anyone suggests is that abuse shouldn’t be exempt just *because* it is religious. (For example extreme hellfire, brimstone, miserable-sinner pedagogy). Or that the Amish shouldn’t be given special permission to remove their kids from school prematurely. I haven’t come across any atheist who’s insensitive to the extreme delicacy of matters of intervention.

    Neil said: Not to intrude on Bubba’s dialogue, to which he’ll answer more clearly than I, but I see some big flaws here.

    First, I encourage you to either not speak for other atheists or to do so more accurately. For many do want to eradicate religion and consider it child abuse. I have yet to see Dawkins’ acolytes reject that doctrine in any serious or thorough way.

    And you are guilty of multiple equivocations here at the least. First, the irony of accusing us of believing without evidence while atheists believe that something came from nothing, life came from non-life, etc. – all without evidence. We have lots of evidence. If you don’t agree with it or find it compelling, that is fine with me. But it is simply untrue to claim we don’t have any.

    Then, the feigned aversion to thought crimes when in the next paragraph you label “miserable-sinner pedagogy” child abuse. It isn’t necessarily abuse even if it is false. But if an outcome is real then strong warnings are appropriate. You just don’t agree with the theology, which is your prerogative. But to take someone’s children away because you don’t agree with their parenting philosophy is pretty twisted and a rather steep slippery slope.

    I think that anyone who buys into Eckhart Tolle’s New Age musings and teaches it to their children is illogical, but I wouldn’t dream of taking their kids away over it.

    The plea for conversational tolerance was granted long ago. The anti-religious thought police on college campuses swung the pendulum the other direction, in fact.

    Bubba said: They’re sometimes equally dogmatic about science or empiricism, as if nothing is true unless science can conclude thus or unless empirical evidence can be offered to prove it, and as if nothing can be known outside these very limited disciplines:

    I don’t know what visitors before my time have said, but if applied to atheist commenters of my own era, this would flirt with strawman-hood. Of course scientific findings are particularly impartial evidence, but *evidence* is the point. If you can point me to a way of knowing that doesn’t rely on evidence, I’d like to see it.

    Bubba said: As Goldberg shows, we’ve already seen large-rejections of traditional morality in the last century — really, we’ve seen it time and again since the French Revolution — and we’ve seen the evil fruit that is the result.

    I’d love to see a little more rejection of traditional morality among the Taliban.

    The opposite of dogma isn’t running wild with baseless ideas—it’s examining conclusions carefully and freshly. (Dogma and running-wild are in the same family, namely unexamined ideas). Some of our inherited dogmas are good, some bad. The only way to tell the difference is careful examination. No good dogma is good because it’s a dogma, it’s good for its own reasons.

    Do you fear that considering received wisdom carefully and freshly is a dangerous path to go down? You can’t have much faith in reason then.

    As for morality. Even if Platonic morality had to precede ethical evaluations philosophically (it doesn’t), it sure doesn’t precede it developmentally, which is to say, actually. A child imbibes moral dictates trustingly from her parents; she’s primed to accept oughts and shoulds without question to some degree, for her own well-being. (Dawkins speculates that this adaptive readiness to believe without question might be a substantial influence in the persistence of non-evidence-based, supernatural belief). It makes no difference to her whether the authority is understood to derive from mom and dad, or from God: the only difference with God is there’s less chance of escaping punishment.

    On a practical level (and our life on this savannah is nothing if not practical), kids raised by kind, conscientious, honest parents are likely to become good citizens, whether they’re wiccans or existentialists. All the more so if they’re embedded in and observe a well-woven community. Morality is a perfectly social phenomenon. Japan has no monotheist heritage, but oodles of community-embeddedness: and there, you can leave your suitcase at a Tokyo intersection for six hours and count on finding it right where you left it. If a yakuza finds your wallet he’ll return it for a bow and a smile.

    Morality is a perfectly social phenomenon, and children instinctively understand it that way–which is why so many spend hours with furrowed brow over questions like why their nice Jewish uncle is going to Hell, or tribes uncontacted by Christians.

    Y’all sometimes claim that atheists borrow morality from Christians. (…I wonder, do you expect unbelieving Viking countries—which are tops in terms of their social compacts—to degenerate into nihilism once they run out of Christian fumes…)? But it’s the other way round; Christian culture is one of many beneficiaries of a common human inheritance. Plenty of details vary from culture to culture, but there is a core: you won’t find any culture that rewards sociopathy above all else. Some ethical values, I would argue, are as relative to a culture as which side of the street to drive on. Others, though, are objectively better or worse strategies for fulfilling everyone’s needs. Ending slavery is progress in this way, objectively.

    Neil said: In a materialist worldview that statement isn’t objectively true at all. “Morality” would be whatever those in power and/or the majority of the culture drove it to be.

    There’s room for both cultural relativism AND objective value. To suggest otherwise is more obscurantist binary thinking. Naturalism leads inevitably to nihilism? No; if you recognize certain things as valuable, you’re by definition not a nihilist. There are countless things people value, from their own day-to-day empirical observation. It doesn’t begin in any Platonic realm—not developmentally, and not philosophically—it begins with noticing what our needs are. We all need food, shelter, friendship. (Also work—some way to contribute; this is a psychological need as well as a societal one. Someone who can contribute and doesn’t, doesn’t have a healthy psyche, a nourishing feeling about himself and all his relations).

    Neil said: Re. “someone who can contribute and doesn’t . . .” – Now you sound like a Conservative! Maybe there is some common ground here ;-).

    All the rules unique to religion are rules which serve no purpose in getting everyone’s needs met. And Christians claim SUPERIORITY for their morality—transcendence—precisely BECAUSE it has no earthly reasons. Earthly reasons are relative by definition. I mean for example, when you say Bubba that punishment is itself the point of Hell—that is, punishment in itself is a good—this doesn’t at all answer my question, which was “what good does eternal punishment ACCOMPLISH?” You’re obviously begging the question. If I assert that genocide is good, and you demur, my position is just not very well supported by “genocide is itself a good, it need not accomplish any good outside itself.”

    And Hell represents an atrocity whose scale is *infinitely* larger than all earthly genocides combined. It has many more victims, and their torture never ever ever ever ever ever *ever* ends. Indeed God is continuing to burn all 6 million Jewish victims of the holocaust as we speak, according to Christian doctrine.

    Neil said: You have no basis to call Hell an atrocity, unless you are the judge of God. And you’re not, except in your imagination.

    So what do you mean by transcendent morality, if not a morality without reasons? *This* is where certainty is dangerous.

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  24. Hi Neil,

    Neil said: Re. “someone who can contribute and doesn’t . . .” – Now you sound like a Conservative! Maybe there is some common ground here ;-).

    Hmm. I’d settle for sounding like a commie. But I actually do share a little ground with conservatives in the diagnosis of certain problems, just not at all in the solutions proposed.

    Neil said: For many [atheists] do want to eradicate religion and consider it child abuse. I have yet to see Dawkins’ acolytes reject that doctrine in any serious or thorough way.

    I agreed that some want to eradicate or greatly reduce religion, but only through conversation. Conversational INtolerance is Sam Harris’ phrase, he means it’s a good thing. Wikipedia:

    “Harris acknowledges that he advocates a benign, corrective form of intolerance, distinguishing it from historic religious persecution. He promotes a conversational intolerance, in which personal convictions are scaled against evidence, and where intellectual honesty is demanded equally in religious views and non-religious views. Harris argues for the need to counter popular notions that prevent the open critique of religious ideas, beliefs, and practices.”

    Neil said: What a pathetic straw-man ad hom on Harris’ behalf, implying that his ideological opponents don’t have evidence and are intellectually dishonest. Rather ironic statement on his part, actually. And where did he get the notion that religious ideas, beliefs, and practices can’t be critiqued?! What a tool.

    And to be clear, I’ve seen no-one suggest eradicating religion as a motivation for intervening in cases of mental child abuse. Just the welfare of the child. So “final solution” would not be at all fair.

    What Dawkins has called child abuse isn’t religious indoctrination itself, but the labelling of children as Catholic or Protestant (in northern Ireland for instance), plus extreme cases of psychological torment about Hell etc. I don’t much like the rhetoric in the former case, though he doesn’t want state intervention anyway. The latter case seems theoretically straightforward to me (the devil is in the details): not that the State should intervene all over the place; it’s rightly cautious in the fuzzier area of psychological abuse generally. Just that extremely bad parenting shouldn’t be exempt merely *because* it takes a religious form.

    You’ve seen “Jesus Camp?” I wouldn’t want the State to intervene in that case, but I’d certainly call the counselors’ practices harmful, and insensitive to what a child is. The kids looked so miserable. In the case of intelligent parents led by a belief in Hell to warn their kids about it–as lightly as possible with such a heavy thing, and conveying the sense that avoiding it is straightforward–I would not want the State to intervene. That would be a slippery slope, I agree. I still consider it an extraordinarily unfortunate seed to plant in a young imagination, though. If Dawkins holds a more aggressive position here then we part ways. I don’t know those details of his position, but I do know he isn’t cavalier about the delicacy of issues of State intervention and cultural diversity.

    “To take someone’s children away because you don’t agree with their parenting philosophy” is a slippery slope we’re already on. Some parenting philosophies value beatings, or healing cancer via Christian Science alone. And note that I spoke of *extreme* miserable-sinner pedagogy. I had in mind cases where such pedagogy is indistinguishable from any other aggressive belittling of children, any other demolishment of their self-esteem. I don’t see this happening except in families whose parents are themselves pretty damaged.

    Neil said: We have lots of evidence. If you don’t agree with it or find it compelling, that is fine with me. But it is simply untrue to claim we don’t have any.

    I didn’t say you don’t have evidence, although I do indeed find the leaps you make highly unconvincing. I said that as a society we’ve unproductively *revered* belief without evidence in the form of “faith.” Faith is defined as such in the Bible itself: “now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    Neil said: Keep reading. Faith in the Bible is faith in someone – specifically Jesus – about whom we have much evidence.

    And you certainly implied that we believe without evidence and even revere it, which is not only false but completely counter to the Biblical model: “They all hope to erode our society’s knee-jerk reverence for belief without evidence”

    Neil said: In a materialist worldview that statement isn’t objectively true at all. “Morality” would be whatever those in power and/or the majority of the culture drove it to be.

    You didn’t read carefully. An assessment of how effectively a given strategy fulfills everyone’s needs is an assessment of facts–an objective assessment.

    Neil: How utopian. The devil is in the details, in defining how you fulfill everyone’s needs – e.g., the “need” of a woman to have her unborn child aborted vs. the “need” of the human being to stay alive. You can’t have it both ways, so you can’t meet everyone’s “needs.” That is one of countless examples of where that thinking falls flat as soon as you try to implement it.

    Neil said: You have no basis to call Hell an atrocity, unless you are the judge of God. And you’re not, except in your imagination.

    I bear excellent tidings: God is not the judge of you except in your imagination.

    Neil said: Uh, gee, since you said so . . . but then, you think Eckhart Tolle posses the truth! Good luck with the worldview that you won’t be accountable for your actions in this life. Ignorance of the law is a lie and it is not an excuse.

    Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

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  25. Neil said: What a pathetic straw-man ad hom on Harris’ behalf, implying that his ideological opponents don’t have evidence and are intellectually dishonest. Rather ironic statement on his part, actually. And where did he get the notion that religious ideas, beliefs, and practices can’t be critiqued?! What a tool.

    That notion was abundantly confirmed where I grew up (Cambridge, MA). Of course he doesn’t think criticism is unheard of, but he points out an obvious inequality in the treatment it receives in some circles. His main target is sloppy religious pluralism, which should be common ground for you. That paragraph doesn’t call believers less honest than unbelievers, it says less rigor has been *required* of religious truth claims.

    Which, I submit, has indeed encouraged less rigor in the believers’ own thinking. It’s a scale thing: neither Harris nor I say that the religious have no evidence. We say they have less, and that this has been considered a noble thing.

    Neil said: And you certainly implied that we believe without evidence and even revere it, which is not only false but completely counter to the Biblical model: “They all hope to erode our society’s knee-jerk reverence for belief without evidence”

    I implied that many faithful believe without evidence, sure–in the place where the leap of faith happens– but not that you *don’t have* evidence. The origin of the universe is a curious matter, so you believe God did it. This is believing something you can’t know. The naturalist’s position isn’t to believe something about that origin for which he doesn’t have evidence; it’s to admit he doesn’t know for sure, and examine which hypotheses are most promising. Given that he sees no evidence anywhere else for a great Mind directing things, and given that there’s no clue as to a mechanism whereby God could have made the Big Bang, say, and given that such a Mind would need much more explaining than what it’s introduced to explain, he doesn’t consider it a promising hypothesis.

    I said: You didn’t read carefully. An assessment of how effectively a given strategy fulfills everyone’s needs is an assessment of facts–an objective assessment.

    And Neil said: How utopian. The devil is in the details, in defining how you fulfill everyone’s needs – e.g., the “need” of a woman to have her unborn child aborted vs. the “need” of the human being to stay alive. You can’t have it both ways, so you can’t meet everyone’s “needs.” That is one of countless examples of where that thinking falls flat as soon as you try to implement it.

    Of course you have to balance demands. But balancing of needs is at base what every society HAS tried to implement all day long.

    I don’t begin to imagine that what everyone thinks they need, they really need. Suffering and well-being are subtle matters which most of us approach incredibly ineffectively in our personal lives.

    Neil said: but then, you think Eckhart Tolle posses the truth!

    Okay, it’s a fun taunt, I don’t object, but then you’ll have to tell me in more detail what you find so fallacious in Tolle. I’ll tell you the most egregious error he makes in my eyes: he asserts without evidence that humans are awakening to non-self etc. more easily and numerously than ever before, that some group consciousness thing is quickening. He’s kind of a mystery to me sometimes in how he can know his own consciousness so solidly, yet assert flaky things with confidence.

    But in talks like the one I linked to, bear in mind that it’s along the lines of a guided meditation: its aim is not to make a metaphysical argument or even really to convey information. As Tolle would say, “the words are just pointers,” not a logical edifice. The idea is to feel the authority of the simple words, the quiet that births them–words you’re likely to have heard many times without appreciating their full liberating implications– and to confirm in your own experience, not discursively or analytically, the quiet perspective that they emerge from and point back to.
    In other words, listen quietly and receptively, suspending all you think you know.

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  26. Neil said: And you certainly implied that we believe without evidence and even revere it, which is not only false but completely counter to the Biblical model: “They all hope to erode our society’s knee-jerk reverence for belief without evidence”

    So, you understand that “The theory of evolution” is the best we have for the origin and diversity of the species we see around us?
    Or do you go against the evidence, and therefore go, as you said, “completely counter to the Biblical model”?

    Neil said: Hi Havok – it would probably be most productive if we didn’t start that again. Of course I don’t “understand” that. The whole point is that I disagree with it. You are just begging the question by assuming that it is true and that I’m going against the evidence.

    Really, feel free to join other discussions, but after nearly 200 of your comments I’m pretty sure I’ve got your macro-evolution worldview down 😉 .

    Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

    Is this His wrath still being revealed? If so, why have things generally been getting much better for humanity? How do you explain our increased life span, greater standard of living, and reduced chances of being killed through violence? Is God’s wrath actually something which makes the world a better place?

    Neil said: I think you misunderstood that part. I encourage you to do an in-depth study of the whole Book of Romans to understand the context better. Here’s a high level overview: http://bible1.wordpress.com/category/romans/

    P.S. Don’t confuse God’s patience with God’s approval.

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  27. Neil said: The whole point is that I disagree with it. You are just begging the question by assuming that it is true and that I’m going against the evidence.

    I was being facetious – I know you “disagree” with the theory of evolution.
    I was simply pointing out your hypocrisy – claiming to follow the evidence, yet refusing to when it goes against your beliefs.

    Neil said: Hee hee. My hypocrisy indeed. I follow the evidence, but I don’t see it for macro-evolution. And, for the 100th time, the Darwinian worldview requires blind faith (“Something from nothing! Life from non-life! And more!”) that I just don’t have.

    By the way, you’re strongly pro-life, right? (See related post.)

    I haven’t heard you disagree with the theory of gravity (Einstein’s relativity), even though we don’t really understand the causes (quantum theory of gravity anyone?) just the effects (bending of spacetime etc).
    For evolution, we do understand the mechanism’s by which it works (DNA, natural selection, kin selection, mutation, etc).
    The theory explains the evidence we have gathered, the observations we make, allows accurate predictions, etc more accurately than any competing “theory of evolution”, of which ID could possibly be (maybe), if the proponents stopped their publicity stunts and started doing science 😉

    Neil said: Yes, nice proofs for micro-evolution.

    Will look into Romans when I get to it in my biblical studies.

    How do I tell the difference between hypothetical patience and hypothetical approval? 😉

    Neil said: Not sure how old you are, but my guess is that you have somewhere between 50 minutes and 50 years before you find out. Hebrews 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment

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  28. Havok asked “How do I tell the difference between hypothetical patience and hypothetical approval?”

    I’ve had that same question. I’ve learned (after LOTS of mistakes) that I can pray and ask God to show me the answer. At first, I didn’t always see/hear his answer and I was very frustrated. I spent more time getting to know Him (through Bible study) and began to hear Him speak more.

    Once I read John 10:4, I realized that knowing Him ws the key to understanding the answer to my prayer. That verse says “his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (NIV)

    Havok, it seems you’re caught in a vicious circle, you can’t believe if you don’t have proof and believers accept as proof things you can’t believe. You’ve also implied (maybe said?) a few times that you’re genuinely seeking the truth.

    If you’re truly seeking, why not pray? “God, if you’re real, show me.” Then read the scriptures with an open mind.

    When God began to speak to me, He didn’t answer all of my questions at once. I still don’t have all of the answers. But over time, I began to trust Him to handle all of the things I coudn’t understand.

    How many stars are there, how many grains of sand? How did this earth and everything in it get created from nothing in just 7 (actually 6) days? How can God see everything at once? How can a God that is that great realy care about me? How can He forgive me for the sins I’ve committed.

    I may not know the answer to any of these questions, but I know someone that does have the answers! Thank you God for sending your Son so that I could be free.

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  29. Randy said: If you’re truly seeking, why not pray? “God, if you’re real, show me.” Then read the scriptures with an open mind.

    That would be being dishonest with myself.
    Have you read the Koran, and honestly thought “Allah, if you’re real, show me”, and then read it with an open mind?

    Randy said: How many stars are there, how many grains of sand? How did this earth and everything in it get created from nothing in just 7 (actually 6) days? How can God see everything at once? How can a God that is that great realy care about me? How can He forgive me for the sins I’ve committed.

    Randy said: I may not know the answer to any of these questions, but I know someone that does have the answers! Thank you God for sending your Son so that I could be free.

    I can help you out there Randy:
    1) Estimated number of stars is ~10^21
    2) It didn’t. The universe “started” ~14 billion years ago. The earth formed from an acretion disk around our star – sol, some 4.7 billion years ago. Life is thought to have begun ~3 billion years ago, and through the process we call “evolution” (there’s that dirty word again), the multitude of species we see around us, and in the fossil record came to be.
    3) A fictional entity can have any attributes we’d like to give it. It doesn’t have to be logical or make any sense.
    4) Again, see 3. Plus it makes you feel really special, which is always a nice thing 🙂
    5) See both 3 and 4.

    Yes Randy, thank me (well google+nasa+wikipedia+the huge wealth of scientific knowledge we have amassed etc) for the answers! 😉

    Neil said: Havok, the fossil evidence for macro-evolution is a joke and many materialists admit that. You lose tons of credibility when not conceding that. And, as always, you take the blind faith route of the universe appearing from nothing and life coming from non-life, and organizing itself. Those violate scientific laws left and right. Yet you think we have blind faith . . .

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  30. Wow! I really don’t like my basic font. ‘1’ looks a lot like ‘]’. For a minute there I thought you were estimating the number of stars at ~10^2. I’m guessing there are more than 100, but I always lose my place after about 30, so I’m not sure. 😉

    At least there are a few things I can be certain of in this world.

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  31. Havok,
    I’m not 50 years old and I’ve seen too much of the “science” change in those years. I lost faith in the science a long time ago. At least now my faith is in something that doesn’t change.

    As for my suggestion to pray, I can assure you that if you aren’t seriously seeking it won’t work. Instead, it seems like you’re already convinced of the “truth”.

    Like

  32. Neil said: Havok, the fossil evidence for macro-evolution is a joke and many materialists admit that. You lose tons of credibility when not conceding that. And, as always, you take the blind faith route of the universe appearing from nothing and life coming from non-life, and organizing itself. Those violate scientific laws left and right. Yet you think we have blind faith . . .

    The fossil evidence for common descent is pretty damn convincing, regardless of what you may think, and what quotes you might find and take out of context.

    Neil said: Nonsense.

    I’m not taking a blind faith route here, with regards to the big bang. You assume “God did it”, due to an ancient text, I agree with the scientists “I don’t know”, with some hypothesis based upon sound math and physics.

    Neil said: I don’t assume it just because of an ancient text (I love the superfluous adjective, as if ancient = wrong).

    Seriously Neil, saying a hypothesis for the origin of the visible universe, based upon math and physics, breaks the known laws of physics is a little nonsensical, don’t you think?
    Just because you don’t agree or don’t understand, doesn’t mean it’s wrong 🙂

    Neil said: No, you just have a little fantasy thing going where you think science has proven it.

    ?????, I guess I should have written it out in long form :-
    1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
    Think that’s come out about right 🙂

    Randy, science is about gathering knowledge. Simply because it changes doesn’t make it “wrong”. I’d say it is foolish to put your faith in something which cannot be tested objectively and cannot change, but thats just me 🙂
    What was it which made you lose your “faith” in science? Was it simply that you felt more comfortable not having to stay up to date with the latest research and findings? A static set of understandings can be comforting, but it does not make it correct, especially when evidence goes against it.

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  33. Havok,
    When I was in school, I learned that science was about observing. I don’t know anyone that observed the big bang or evolution. Each time a new fossil is found, the whole evolution chain changes. Lucy was the answer to all the questions, now she’s not that important. There was a dinosaur that I learned about as a child, now they’ve decided that it was very different in shape (I think it was brontosaurus, but since it changed, I’ve forgotten about it).

    Maybe my saying I lost my “faith” in science was a little harsh. I’ve learned that science doesn’t have all the answers. How’s that? There are lots of things tht they can’t answer. Big Bang is a theory. Evolution is a theory.

    As for staying up to date with latest research and findings, I do what I can. I don’t read every journal available, but I read the newspapers and the web. But since I already know who has the answers, why should I spend all my time looking for something else? Once you’ve found something, must people stop looking.

    My faith has been tested. I choose God.

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  34. Havok,
    I believe there comes a time in every one’s life where God is our only/best resource to gain comfort. I hope if you recognize a situation like that in your life that you would humble yourself to ask for His help. Rumor has it that “there aren’t many atheists in foxholes.” Your statement about not being true to yourself by asking if God exists matters little if He really does and you refuse to ask for his help in a crisis. What would you have to lose, your pride?
    Seaofbrightjuice,
    Who was/is Jesus? Jesus talked about hell a lot.
    Some say that hell is separation from God and that everyone gets a chance to choose hell or Christ’s gift of salvation. Atheists consciously choose separation now.

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