"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Knowing God: Part 1

Talk about a tough subject to tackle.  Why even try?

I will try, to a very, very limited degree, because of something that I've heard or read from people over and over, both on one extreme or on the other.  On the one hand, I've heard from people who have said the most outlandish, crackpot stuff while invoking the name or authority of God, at the other extreme are those who, while being correct about human inability to comprehend God fully, seem to believe that we can't know anything about God, so, why even try?  Which leaves them open to create a god in their own image, according to their own likes and dislikes.

This is a subject that actually requires a tremendous amount of background.   Like having a discussion on the fine points of flying an F-18 Superhornet and carrying out a mission involving multiple combat scenarios, you wouldn't attempt to include people who have never flown in a plane, let alone don't know anything about aerodynamics or avionics.  Therefore, I understand that I'm about to talk about stuff that will leave a lot of people in a fog if they happen to stumble on to this blog.  In the religious realm, this is like lecturing on eschatology when some of your audience has never even heard the terms; amillennial, pre-trib, or harpazo.

But this is what I feel led to do, so here goes.

I came to my knowledge of God, not based on some experience.  Thank you, Father.  I don't mean for that to disparage those who have, after all, look at Rabbi (apostle) Paul.  I came to my faith kicking and screaming, battling with my intellect the whole way.  By the time I was 25, I hated all forms of organized religion. But I couldn't shake the gut feeling that there was some kind of "higher power."  That brings up the issue of  being "spiritual, but not religious," but that will be another post.

Here is where you have to pay attention carefully.  I came to God out of desperation and in spite of my mind, while having a crisis of purpose.  He answered me and gave me some personal miraculous confirmation.  But I was a long way from any real knowledge of God and I had lot's and lot's and lot's of misconceptions and doubts.  I spent the first few years of my new life with God getting spanked and corrected in my thinking.  Actually that still goes on, but not quite as dramatically as it did in the first year.

I had a friend who led his family life as though God existed, but admitted to me in private his serious doubts about God's existence. His main problem was that he felt God should make His existence obvious to the point that no one could have any doubts about it.  I finally discovered his "bottom line" after giving him lots of evidence from several years of studying apologetics.  What I also discovered about my friend is that he really just wanted a consensus of  worldly "experts" to simply render a judgment and tell him it was true so he wouldn't have to wrestle with the hard thinking.  He couldn't understand why so many people he knew believed in God, while so much of the world of academe that he put his faith in, didn't.  I've lost touch with him, and don't know if he ever did come to an understanding of what faith really is.

Over time, I've discovered a consistent thread among those who wish to avoid any mental heavy lifting when it comes to theology.  The name for such people is agnostic.  They don't think of themselves as mentally lazy.  Instead they will declare that questions about God or knowing anything about Him or His existence is just too difficult for even the most brilliant intellects, therefore, it is unknowable.  They have decided to take their chance in the hereafter by pleading ignorance.  What's funny to me is the amount of mental gymnastics they employ to avoid the difficult choice. And while such people in the realm of religion are called agnostic, in the realm of politics, I call them moderates. Same thinking process, or lack thereof.  Atheists are a completely different animal and are so illogical as to be silly.  The rules of logic make that clear, and when you confront them with it, it nearly makes their heads explode or they shut down or switch position to agnostic, at least in front of me.

Which reminds me: this is where someone is going to think I'm horribly arrogant.  Showing any confidence at all in an argument is enough to reduce most moderates or agnostics into simply using the "arrogant" epithet and concluding that they don't need to engage the debate any longer.

How is it possible that little-old me has the chutzpah to think that I can really know something or anything about God?  Believe it or not, it is precisely because of my love of science that I came to believe in God.  It is because I like and appreciate logic and reason that  I embrace the existence of God and the pursuit of knowing Him more and more.

I didn't start out that way, as I said.  I had accepted, without reservation, everything that the average secular person believes about evolution, that the Bible was merely written by men who used religion as a way to control others, that miracles were myths, and that science had explained almost everything, and whatever it hadn't yet explained, it was just a matter of time until it would. In the Spring of my 25th year, had you told me that I would one day reject all of that and eventually be teaching creation apologetics and that the Bible was true, I would have said, "Screw you and the horse you rode in on."  But I would have done it in less polite language and with much gusto.

At first, I just wanted this warm fuzzy idea that I could be forgiven for all my shortcomings and that I didn't have to worry about some cosmic justice or judgment at the end of life.  I liked the "idea" of Jesus, but I didn't want anything to do with that Bible stuff.  And I could have gone along like that indefinitely had I only hung around the "Christians," because the vast majority of them were just like me in that regard. (A very sad statement about Christendom) The problem came because I was challenged by the secular world about being simple minded for believing in such a fairy tale as Jesus and the Bible.  That just didn't work for me.  I can't pretend that it's possible to compartmentalize what should be, what is,  the most ultimate question of the Universe from everything else I believe.  My logical mind was not going to let me get away with that.

I was forced into engaging in linear logic, Aristotelian thought, if you will.  Either Jesus is real, or he's not.  And it isn't just enough that he was a real historical figure.  If he simply lived and died, and all the information about him in the Bible is just a bunch of made up stories or embellishments, then it's foolish and self-delusional to think that he can somehow save me or make my life better.  If there is no certainty that there's a life after this earthly one, then I might as well get whatever pleasure I can while I'm here.  What's the sense of playing by a set of rules if the outcome is a guaranteed loss?  The flip side of that scenario is what happens if this Jesus guy is for real and all that stuff in the Bible about him is true?  That would mean that what I stand to lose goes up exponentially.

So, I made up my mind, with a tenacity like I'd never known before.  If I could come up with enough evidence to put to rest this idea that Jesus was anything more than a really charismatic teacher, then I could go on living my life the way I wanted and not have to worry about stories no more valuable than those of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.  All I had to do was prove that the Bible couldn't be trusted.

I said out loud, "Hey God, or Jesus, or whoever you are; if you are real and if this book is really your word, you're gonna have to prove it to me."  No feigned reverence.  No pleading as if I was worried about losing anything.  I was my typical bull-headed, in-your-face punk.

The following day is when things got interesting.

To move on to the next part click on Knowing God: Part 2

1 comment:

  1. mmm,looking forward to part 2 ... (here via way of Kevin and blogrolled)


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