The Importance of Evidence

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Perhaps a handful of archaeologists will find “evidence” of our era 10,000 years from now. That thought highlights the profound indifference of this life. It’s indifferent to our hopes, our futures, goals, ambitions, our goodness, and our evil. It can drive men to despair of this life, to live in absurd revolt against it, or to hope in some eternal glory of the next. But, to call life absurd is to be absurd. To live in revolt is to reject peace. To despair is to reject life. What else can man do except find peace in hope?

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The Incoherence of the Accusers (2)

The new atheists say that faith is belief without evidence. One might as well ask, where is the evidence that this is so?  If they don’t have evidence for this definition, then their hypocrisy knows no bounds, for they believe this without evidence. Can we trust those who don’t have faith to judge faith correctly?

The Scientific Method applied to Religion

Baumgardner, in quoting Frank Wolfs, boils the scientific method down to the four following essentials:1

  1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
  2. Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomena. (In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a mathematical relationship.)
  3. Use of the hypothesis to predict other phenomena or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
  4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters.

Wolfs explains, “No matter how elegant a theory is, its predictions must agree with experimental results if we are to believe that it is a valid description of nature. In physics, as in every experimental science, ‘experiment is supreme’ and experimental verification of hypothetical predictions is absolutely necessary.”1

Similarly, Atheist Ethicist explains “The way science works, a scientist can’t just shout out that [s]he knows something. She has to say why she thinks she knows something, and then wait for somebody else to confirm the findings.

Some say that the scientific method is a superior form of attaining any meaningful knowledge and that all others are to be discarded. However, Inasmuch as the scientific method requires independent verification, it is inadequate in matters of religion.

All the life and power of true religion consists in the inward and full persuasion of the mind. Religion itself is made of two components: a profession of faith toward God and an outward form of worship. If we are not fully persuaded in our own minds that our faith is true and our form of worship is well-pleasing, we are conducting an exercise in hypocrisy and adding to our list of offenses toward God. This being the nature of religion, the only force that can be used therein is not force at all, but admonishments, exhortations, arguments, and advice.

To require the truth of religion to hinge upon independent verification conducted by another person is to leave the care of your soul, indeed its very salvation, to a person who does not have as vested an interested in your salvation as you have. The mere position of an outside observer does not yield more insight into other men’s faith or worship. These things ought every man to sincerely inquire himself with due diligence, search, study, and meditation. We are all equal in nature concerning these things and no man has been placed above another.

But, let us grant for the moment that the person independently verifying another man’s faith is seeking only that man’s good and has attained superior knowledge. Even then we are in no better position. A government official who shows me the best way to conduct a business, may, upon my failure, shore up my losses and provide security for me. But, there is no security for the life to come that can be given by another man. It is not within another man’s power to ease my loss, or prevent my suffering, or restore me in some measure. That is a matter between God and myself.  The Kingdom of God is in the hearts of men (Luke 17:21) and therefore no man, who’s only real jurisdiction is in the physical world, can affect a better care than I of my soul by use of superior knowledge, or outward force, or coercion.

The failure of the scientific method in attaining any efficacious change in the full persuasion of one’s mind in matters of religion, renders pointless the need for proofs or evidence to be submitted to anyone for scrutiny. Every private man’s search and study discovers the truth of the matter unto himself. Indeed, the man to whom the proofs or evidence must be supplied will have his hands full making his own salvation sure. It would be even more treacherous for a man who cares for his soul to submit evidence for scrutiny to someone who has a complete lack of care for his own soul. An atheist is a very poor man indeed to receive advice from on matters of religion.

Therefore, let us leave aside the scientific method in matters of religion and reach toward God in faith and in the full persuasion of the mind.

1. Wolfs, F. 1996. Introduction to the scientific method. Physics Laboratory Experiments, Appendix E, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester

Who searches for truth and who has the truth?

Richard Dawkins questions God:

“The cheetah is superbly equipped for killing gazelles. The gazelle is superbly equipped to escape from those very same cheetahs. For heaven’s sake, who’s side is the designer on? Is he a sadist who enjoys the spectator sport? Did he who made the lamb make thee? Is it really part of the divine plan that the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the lion eat straw like the ox? In that case, what price the formidable carnassial teeth, the murderous claws of the lion and the leopard? Whence the breathtaking speed and the agile escapology of the antelope and the zebra?”

It reminds me of a previous questioner of God:

“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

And yet I’m reminded of God’s questions:

“Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof? Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.”

Reverse Psychology

When the veil of human ignorance is taken away, we find out what has been happening all along: that we only seemed to be the questioners, the teachers, the testers, the judges, the knowing ones acting like scientists looking for God in a test tube. In reality we are the questioned, the tested, the students, the judged, the known ones. When God asks a question he either is the answer or the answer lies within him. That is the nature of God, which man does not have. Truth is not simply around God or known by him, truth is him. This is why when we answer his question, it does not leave us lost, but found. And not only found, but joined to the Truth himself. People who observe the world around us with the intent only to know ourselves better (our origins, our present condition, and our future), are still left with uncertainty, for who knows what new discoveries will confuse the present ones and suffer man to redefine himself once again. If men observe the world and ask the question, “Who is God?” instead of, “Who is man?”, we can obtain certainty. For this reason, belief in God is not religion, it is the discovery of the true nature of reality, for God is reality. Reality based on man is fictional, delusional, a fairy tale: as evidenced by the absence of satisfying truth in man based answers. Questions that originate in man leave us lost at sea. Questions that originate in God set us on dry land.

Choose Your Own Adventure

When we are young we have faith in our parents. We obey them (hopefully) because they love us and they show us how life is, and what it should be. As we get older we put faith in our teachers trusting that they are authorities on Mathematics, Science, English, and so on. Each time we learn, we receive by faith the things they teach us since we have no first-hand knowledge of the things they relate to us. It’s better than making each generation rediscover everything over again. However, there is a time to learn what others teach and a time to gather knowledge ourselves. We begin to have faith in ourselves that we have the capabilities to understand the right ways of life. In the process of attaining knowledge we endeavor to reject faulty knowledge. But, we cannot be 100% certain that the knowledge we acquire is free of corruption since it cannot be independently verified by an outside source. Although some people see evidence of a Creator,  no 3rd party materializes in front of us to provide confirmation or denial of our findings, and these findings are subject to further criticism from every other person looking for answers or just looking to poke holes in other people’s findings. At this point, two types of people can emerge. The first is a person who begins to find the answers of life within himself, picking himself up by his bootstraps, so to speak, creating his own meaning and purpose, reality and truth. He has faith in himself. The other man perceives that his own reason has limitations and is therefore inadequate to get the answers needed. Since he perceives that the human experience is common to all, he looks for answers outside of himself and humanity. He puts faith in a 3rd party in order to confirm or deny his findings.

What is the difference between a man who has faith in himself and his human teachers, and the man who puts his faith in God? Both of them have faith, but the object of their faith is different. What are the outcomes?

The man who puts faith in himself eventually becomes selfish. This does not mean he only thinks of himself, but rather that all of his charitable and self-serving acts come from values formed from his own authority. His self and others like him are the highest forms of life he can find. He creates his own meaning, his own reality, his own purpose, and his own morality. Essentially he is his own property. He can do with himself what he wants. The obstacles to this, however, are others and laws of society. He respects others because it is reasonable, but he may decide that it is not reasonable if he so wishes. As his self grows in value, he can reason anything he wants. He eventually does not need society to decide what is right and wrong for him to do. If he kills someone it was for a good reason even if society does not agree. If he commits suicide he is only hurting himself and it is just fine because he is his own property. If he hurts others it can be justified. Reasons exist to respect other’s “property”, but reasons also exist that justify the disrespect of other’s “property”. The choice is his. He is the judge and jury. He could be the most moral person or the least moral person. Most everyone will not take it this far. They adopt this philosophy in moderation. Herein lies temporary harmony with the rest of men. However, this philosophy taken to the end of itself can lead to the destruction of self and others and it’s perfectly reasonable.

The man who puts his faith in God eventually becomes selfless. This does not mean he never thinks of himself, but rather that all of this charitable and self-serving acts are derived from values given by his Maker. God is the highest form of life he can find. In understanding God’s identity, he realizes his own identity, and derives from God his meaning, reality, purpose, and morality. Essentially, he is God’s property. He can do with himself what he wants, but he gives his self away to the Self of God. In this act, a new identity emerges that naturally follows the character of God. He respects others because they are God’s property, and we are all tenants, so to speak. He does not need society to decide what is right and wrong for him to do. If he kills someone he goes against God’s character. If he commits suicide he is destroying God’s property. If he justifies hurting others, he must ignore God’s laws. Reasons exist to respect God’s property. Reasons not to respect God’s property are products of a corrupt mind. The choice is still the man’s choice, but God is the judge and jury. The man’s degree of morality is dependent upon his conformity to the character of God. Most everyone will not take this as far as it will go. We don’t like to give up our selves completely. We adopt this philosophy in moderation. However, herein lies contention with men, God, and self. This philosophy taken to its end can diminish the self and the lead to a new identity created by God.

Now the paths are laid out before you. Which path will you choose?

 

(Picture created by Luke.)

Dear Restricted Atheist,

You live inside of a box. The Atheist says, “My reason is all that matters. What reason I find outside of myself, I find in others, and seek to add it to my own so that my view of reality is broadened.” Self, ego, or “I”, is your greatest obstacle to understanding Ultimate Reality. Your sense of unique, irreducible, distinct, individual personhood, is the ultimate illusion and the great obstacle to supreme enlightenment. Truth and reality are connected to the “I” that is distinct and separate from humanity, the one who calls himself “I Am”. The answer to ultimate truth and reality is not a statement or a piece of evidence. It is a person. Atheists live inside their box of reason. Christians realize that the “box” is an illusion, a distraction that obscures your view of the truth. Only when we understand the divine “I” can we truly understand the human “I”. This is not a blind faith, but an enlightening one.

“We have reasoned ourselves into oblivion” – Anonymous

Dear Morally Average Atheist,

An atheist said the following:
“Do you find it at all questionable that, since you can’t offer any evidence that Christians who claim a higher moral standard, actually live to a higher moral standard, and that if anything, the evidence shows that they, Christians, actually live a moral standard that is lower than the moral standard of non believers?
Why is it that you pretty much shrug off actual evidence? I am guessing that if you could show that Christians actually lived to a higher moral standard, you wouldn’t hesitate, but since you can’t, you just ignore the fact that the evidence shows that proclaiming to have a higher moral standard is futile and meaningless, since it (the higher moral standard) has no affect on how believers (Christians) behave.”

Surely, you are not saying it’s useless to try to follow a better standard because no one else does. Your observation does not diminish your responsibility in this area. For instance, if no one in the world got their math completely right and everyone averaged about the same amount of mistakes, striving toward perfect arithmetic would still be good. If, however, a group of people were told the right way of doing math, and chose to ignore the instruction, and still averaged the same amount of mistakes as everyone else, should a math enthusiast be content to be average just because it’s average? No, he should find out what is the correct way, and continue to do what is correct to do. That’s when real progress is made. The ones who know what is right and willingly do wrong should be counted as rebellious, deceived in some way, possessing a hindered mental ability, or persuaded the opposite way to the point of exhaustion.

It is the same with morality. A higher morality of the mind exists as instruction for the “human machine” to be run smoothly. If we are only concerned with others, we will do just enough to get by, and no progress will be made. Also, if the human machine isn’t run in proper order, men will hinder society eventually. The man who does right because his mind is right is in better working order than a man who does right because he is made to. The latter will eventually collide with other men and do harm.

In response to the statement that Christians do not follow their own higher moral standards, I initially did not know what to say. I could cite my own experience and show how I have progressed but that would be lifting myself up. I could have cited other men whom I know have followed this higher moral standard, but again that would be lifting up other men. Pride would be noticed in either statement, and my efforts would be useless because this pride would indicate the opposite of what I was trying to say.

Christians (who follow a higher morality of the mind), of all people, count themselves the vilest of men. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. This is common sense, really. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. The man who strives for right knows where he has gone wrong. The man who is completely wrong in the mind, knows neither right nor wrong, but views all he does as acceptable until someone says otherwise. If men know to do right, they should do it, regardless of what others around them are doing.

(This post is a continuation of the post “Dear Moral Atheist”)

The “Dear Atheist” Letters

Dear Atheist,

For all of you who were religious before you turned to atheism, why do you believe there is no God? Oh, you may back it up with current facts, but something started you on this path before the facts came into play. Maybe religion left a bad taste in your mouth. Maybe someone did something to you. Maybe God didn’t come through for you like you wanted him to. Whatever formed your opinion about God, scientific evidence probably didn’t play a huge role in it. And all this talk about God being a totalitarian, or asking unreasonable human sacrifice from Abraham, or not being the God we think he is doesn’t back up your point. It just reveals your hurt.

Sincerely,
Theist

The Old and The New

The world was flat, now it’s round;
created, now evolved;
empty, now overpopulated;
the center of the universe, now it’s off to the side somewhere;
evidence that God exists, now evidence that nothing previously existed;
comfortable, now too warm;
big, sometimes small;
worshiped, now analyzed;
standing still, now moving;
existing, or depending upon our perception.

The world never really changed, everyone else has. Ever think we’re all just over informed? All we really know is that it was here before we were born. Oh, but let’s just keep making our own meaning in life ’cause we’re good at that. So, now I ask you a question. How old is the earth?