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  1. #1
    mooo...wooh hoooh! schrackman's Avatar
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    Christianity requires no proof?

    Hi Michael,

    You wrote:

    Although religion is a discussion in itself, let me say that faith is just that: accept what you are told without proof. Raised as a Christian, it didn't take with me even as a small child, it does so even less today.
    While I realize there are probably some pastors or churches who might tell people what you just wrote above, this is not what the Bible teaches in respect to faith.

    Consequently, the real problem for many lies in the fact that many people erroneously equate believing without seeing as believing without evidence. The latter is what we would call blind faith, and is not the kind of faith the Scriptures speak of.

    Do you not think it would be an irrational thing for God to expect faith from any of us without providing us good reason to believe?

    Ray O'Canon
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  2. #2
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Interesting thought Schrackman and I hadn't thought of it that way before.
    We do need some personal affirmation.
    There is no way to proove God exists or doesn't which is maybe what Michael meant.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member mn shutterbug's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    It actually says in the bible, "question all things". My wife, who is of a different faith than I am, grew up in a very strictly religious household. Unfortunately, everything she learned, was handed down. She was taught to never question the church's teachings. Over the years, she has gradually learned that many of the things she was taught by her parents and church, are sometimes opposite of what the bible teaches. Her parents would never have doubted their church leader and what he considered gospel. In my mind, this is just plain foolhardy. Actually, her faith has never based much on bible teachings. Remember the Salem witch trials? This comes from church goers believing everything their church leaders preached to them. There are many examples from past history, where people should have followed the advice of the bible and "questioned all things".
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  4. #4
    mooo...wooh hoooh! schrackman's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    She was taught to never question the church's teachings. Over the years, she has gradually learned that many of the things she was taught by her parents and church, are sometimes opposite of what the bible teaches.
    Excellent point brought out, Mike. The principle reason why some pastors or churches tell people not to question what they are told is because they are afraid that if they do, they just might come to find their teachings are not what the Scriptures teach.

    I've always said, the Devil never likes to be questioned. God, on the other hand, doesn't mind it one bit so long as the questions relate to a genuine search for the truth. He knows who is sincere, and who is looking to excuse themselves from believing.

    Ray O'Canon
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  5. #5
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    hmm do i attempt to join this discussion, theologically, philosophically, scientifically or even politically?

    A lot of this depends on the framework you are coming from. Assuming some sort of Christian background (lets not make this harder than it need be) and yet the ability to look objectively at the concepts before us, there are issues with either concept. Blind Faith is a matter of interpretation. What a Christian would view as proof of God, the scientist would view as diffraction of the suns rays as the earths rotation alters the angle at which they enter the atmosphere relative to the observer. Thomas saw and believed, and Jesus predicted (for want of a less loaded word) that there would be those who would not see and yet still believe, does this equate to an expectation that God new there would be belief without proof?

    Philosophically if there is a God who for whatever reason hasn't directly revealed him/her/its self then our understanding of such a deity must be restricted by our capacity to understand and interpret. since the nature of God is by its own definition so far removed from our ability to understand who are we to claim any knowledge or understanding at all. In this light IF the scriptures are the word of God (and i am guessing that we are assuming here that they are), then their truth is metered through the understanding of those who copied them down. The Scriptures are therefore not gospel in the classic meaning of the term, but rather an account of one person or even one communities insights and should be read as such. Faith is ultimately linked with this concept of interpretation and understanding.

    For one person group or church a certain set of understanding or presumed understanding will be taken as faith, but for another group a different set of understandings or interpretations will be taken as faith. a good example of this is what the Catholics call "the communion of saints" and many protestant churches call "worshiping false idols" To a Catholic the practice would be a valid way of increasing their individual understanding of God, whilst to a protestant it would be almost heretical and possibly then a work of the devil. who are we to say who is right in matters like this? you have to take it on faith.

    jumping to yet another point, just as most psychologists and or psychiatrists agree that there are stages in cognitive development, especially in relation to ones interaction with and awareness of other. depending on the theory you subscribe to, most people will not ever reach the peak potential. the same is true for faith. The concept of the spiritual journey and spiritual growth is well established amongst all major religions. the issue comes when people at different stages of the journey view different concepts within the faith structure that they have been exposed to in different ways.

    enough of an essay for now

  6. #6
    Formerly Michael Fanelli, mwfanelli, mfa mwfanelli2's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Proof is a word, when used in the vernacular, can be interpreted in many ways. Faith, by it's very definition, means accepting what you can not logically prove. You choose to believe in God or Zeus or whatever, no one can give you logical proof.

    If I look at mathematics (and we'll get back to math later!), I can logically prove thousands of theorems. For example, you do not have to accept that "e" is an irrational number, it can logically be proven. I don't have to accept that Newton's First Law of Motion is true, I can experiment with it's predictions all I want and see that it always works. With religion, the "evidence" is more along the lines of that for UFOs, ghosts, etc. That last sentence is not an insult, just a lack of sleep that has me listening to Coast to Coast in the middle of the night quite a lot!

    Religion is often contradictory which seldom shakes anyone's faith. If a tornado destroys a town and kills ten people, its always "Thank God for having saved me" rather than "God destroyed our town and those ten people." Things that can not be explained are given the label "God works in mysterious ways." To me, that's no different than a person locked into a conspiracy theory who tells me that all the proof is there but it is "hidden" by those in power.

    One unproven theory I like (using faith!) is that humans are the only living beings we know who learn at an early age that they will die no matter what. That is such a devastating revelation that man creates an afterlife, a continuity that extends beyond death. As it is unknown, that continuity is assigned to the supernatural. Christians believe in heaven, Hindus (Hindi?) believe in karma and reincarnation, Muslims believe in Allah, etc. The vast majority of the world believes in some form of the supernatural that provides absolutes, something to cling to.

    Now, some people claim that mathematics also requires faith, after all, it starts from axioms and first principles. But Bertrand Russel stated it clearly: for us to believe in mathematics and that which derives from it, mathematics must be internally consistent. That means, no matter where you start in math, no matter what you choose as your axioms and assumptions, all the rest of math is obtained the same way. You don't have to choose Euclid's axioms to derive geometry in flat space.

    There is the vernacular version of proof that is used in faith, law, aliens abductions, medicine, etc. There is also another more rigorous proof required by science and mathematics. For better or worse, I go with the science and math crowd. That does not mean that faith plays no part in my life. There are things I accept with no proof (rigourous proof) that qualifies as faith. I think everyone does. That suspension of proof for me, however, does not extend to the current beliefs or concepts of any modern religion I am familiar with.

    OK, that's a start. I believe I have to administer the physics final now!
    “Men never do evil so cheerfully and completely as when they do so from religious conviction.” — Blaise Pascal

  7. #7
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Faith doesn't require proof. It never did.

    It's just faith.

    People can believe whatever they want to believe, and they always will.

    I can't prove that God exists nor can I prove that the Big Bang happened. It's all taken on faith.

    I can't prove that Jesus walked the Earth, or on water.

    I can't prove that I'm not a brain in a jar being fed electrical signals to make me think I'm having the experiences I'm having. I take it on faith that I am not!

    Bottom line is, none of this matters! Let Christians believe that God is Jesus let Scientists believe that men were fish. Who cares? Until your actions begin intruding on my rights, I don't care what you believe. Discussions trying to convince people what they should and should not believe are wasted energy.
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Quote Originally Posted by walterick
    Faith doesn't require proof. It never did.

    It's just faith.

    People can believe whatever they want to believe, and they always will.

    I can't prove that God exists nor can I prove that the Big Bang happened. It's all taken on faith.

    I can't prove that Jesus walked the Earth, or on water.

    I can't prove that I'm not a brain in a jar being fed electrical signals to make me think I'm having the experiences I'm having. I take it on faith that I am not!

    Bottom line is, none of this matters! Let Christians believe that God is Jesus let Scientists believe that men were fish. Who cares? Until your actions begin intruding on my rights, I don't care what you believe. Discussions trying to convince people what they should and should not believe are wasted energy.
    If the majority of the people in this place (this planet, at this time) used these concepts as a foundation for their conduct, what a wonderful world this would be. I know the truth. I will add that I do not believe in God, or the Devil, I know. I am not very lucky. Let's just be honest, isn't this world a place of conflict? There is an argument here, it seems to me, that is being waged.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member mn shutterbug's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Quote Originally Posted by reverberation
    Let's just be honest, isn't this world a place of conflict?
    Yes, we live in a world of conflict, just as the prophecys in the bible have foretold.
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  10. #10
    mooo...wooh hoooh! schrackman's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Hi Michael,

    Your entire response above merely echoes your previous sentiments but in a more lengthly way, that Christianity requires no proof for belief. But you still have yet to answer my question.

    Again, would it not seem irrational for God to expect faith from any of us without giving good reason to believe? Particularly since such grave ramifications are attached to the exercising of this faith or lack thereof?

    Or, to put it another way, does it really make sense to you that a sentient being like the God of the Bible, endued with great intellect, would create man in his own image and likeness, fully capable of rational, logical and intelligent thought, and then expect faith from him in the absense of convincing evidence?

    These are yes or no questions...commentary after answering is optional.

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  11. #11
    mooo...wooh hoooh! schrackman's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Rick,

    Bottom line is, none of this matters! Let Christians believe that God is Jesus let Scientists believe that men were fish. Who cares?
    God cares.

    Ray O'Canon
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  12. #12
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Interesting (and unexpected!) thread. Just to lay down my own credentials here - I am a minister in London, as well as an amateur photographer, so I suppose you could say I am a professional at thinking through issues like these - not that I am necessarily good at it!

    Rather than launch into a sermon, just a couple of points - First, of course there is no such thing as "proof" for God. Indeed, if God could be "proven" he would fail to be God. The reason is philosophically simple: any god who was small enough to fit into a human philosophical construct would be less than God, by definition. Theologians have come up with lots of ways of handling this - just two: the Via Negativa (Negative Way) which means that ANYTHING we say about God is false or only partially true (because he cannot be contained within the limitations of human language) and therefore the only ultimate way to address him is in silence and adoration (like monks do). The other way is to take a little bit of Hegelian philosophy and understand God as existing in apparent paradox. For instance, God is both transcendent and immanent, or both righteous judge and universal lover - things that might be mutually exclusive, but where belief in God might be found within a creative tension.

    But, secondly, that is not to say that faith should be blind (it should not!). Indeed, there is a whole branch of theology (apologetics) which is based on the idea that belief in God should be rational and can be rationally expressed. In my experience, people who believe in God totally blindly only wind up losing their faith when reality puts up a road-block to the premises they have believed in. - probably not a faith worth saving imo. In the words of one of my favourite quotes "The God we believe in must be consistent with the fact of Auschwitz".

    That's enough for now

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  13. #13
    Moderator Didache's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Having said all that ....

    Mike
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  14. #14
    Not-so-recent Nikon Convert livin4lax09's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    i think what walterick said pretty much sums up my thoughts on this. I am agnostic, leaning towards atheism, but I have a couple very religious friends. from the discussions I have had with them, bringing up this exact point, they have made me understand one thing. They don't need proof. The sheer act of believing that there is a god is really what gives them strength, and they need something to believe in. It's not about whether he/she/it actually exists or not, it's just about the faith that he/she/it does.

    I personally don't buy into it for the sheer fact it goes against just about EVERY other kind of reasoning in the world. It's kind of like turning in a physics problem, your professor saying no, this is wrong because of (insert reason here) and you saying, "no it's right because I believe it's right, there's no proof, but it just is." When else except religion does that type of reasoning work? Not very many places, that's for sure. But at the same time, I can respect the views of those who do, and I can see where they are coming from. In some instances. In others, such as terminal patients who are praying to god, I find it ironic that they are praying to the very being who put them there (in their belief) to help them out.

    In the end, you can believe what you want to believe and I won't attack you for it. Unless you try to force religion on me. In that case, you'd best be ready for a good argument, because anyone who knows me knows I like arguing, and I certainly don't like backing down from a point I believe in.

  15. #15
    Formerly Michael Fanelli, mwfanelli, mfa mwfanelli2's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Quote Originally Posted by schrackman
    Again, would it not seem irrational for God to expect faith from any of us without giving good reason to believe? Particularly since such grave ramifications are attached to the exercising of this faith or lack thereof?
    First, if you do not believe in a God then the question is irrelevent. Second, even if God exists, there have never been any "good reasons" provided throughout the history we know about. Man creates religions and gods, any "reasons" are also created by man. You choose or not to accept the dogma you are handed. When people ask "How do I know what you are telling me is true?" you wind up with pretty much two results: ignore the problem and just believe or stop believing.

    Or, to put it another way, does it really make sense to you that a sentient being like the God of the Bible, endued with great intellect, would create man in his own image and likeness, fully capable of rational, logical and intelligent thought, and then expect faith from him in the absense of convincing evidence?
    But I don't believe that any of that actually exists! Why? I choose not to believe this stuff! At some point, you always have to say "I believe" to continue the discussions. I just can't say that I believe in God anymore than I can say I believe in flying saucers, ghosts, shadow people, etc. For me to change my mind, I need logical proof. At the risk of sounding horrible, I find the entire God thing silly and somewhat childish. Others don't. So it goes.


    These are yes or no questions...commentary after answering is optional.
    LOL! Come on now, they were loaded questions that don't admit themselves to simple yes-no, on-off, binary answers.
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  16. #16
    mooo...wooh hoooh! schrackman's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Michael,

    Please follow me on this...For argument's sake, the assumption is that God exists.

    Edit: I'm going to amend my statement above to make it easier for you to answer, since I wouldn't want you to think you're having to admit to God existing:

    "For argument's sake the assumption is, should God exist..." (And then my question below should follow.)


    Therefore, would it not seem reasonable for God to provide humans with good reason to believe what Christianity claims if indeed he expects their belief in those claims?

    I am not asking you if you believe there are good reasons to believe (I can deal with that later), but whether or not it is logical and rational for man to expect God to provide good reasons for men to believe.

    I know you understand what I am asking here.

    Come on now, they were loaded questions that don't admit themselves to simple yes-no, on-off, binary answers
    They do admit themselves to yes or no answers. Besides, I did allow room for further commentary should you feel it necessary. But your comments are mute at this point since you have yet to answer to the fundamental question.
    Last edited by schrackman; 12-13-2007 at 01:59 PM.

    Ray O'Canon
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  17. #17
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    What is God?

    And how do you know that it cares?
    Walter Rick Long
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  18. #18
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Yes, this place is a world of conflict.

    And love. And truth. And peace. And hatred. And puppy dogs. And postal codes. And ice cream cones and water faucets and people who lie and people who lay down their life for others.

    What this world is, then, seems to be what we made of it.

    And your post reminds me of another point:

    FAITH is one thing. KNOWLEDGE is something else.

    It's time for spiritual people to start moving from a place of faith, or not knowing but believing, to knowledge, which is knowing, knowing that you know, and knowing how you know. When they say "Jesus is God" or "Men used to be fish" they should then be able to answer the question: "How do you know?" They should be able to answer it quickly, succinctly, and without bargaining or emotional pleas. If they can defend their beliefs with rational thought and proof, then they have knowledge. If not, they are simply believing, which is fine, they have the right to believe anything. But they shouldn't muddy the path for others by pretending their beliefs are truth.
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  19. #19
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    "Do you not think it would be an irrational thing for God to expect faith from any of us without providing us good reason to believe?"

    I know that this question was not asked of me, but since it was asked in a public forum, and I am interested, I am going to take a stab at it.

    Your question is a little wordy, so help to me understand it better I am going to try to condense it. Let me know if I have altered the meaning of your question by rewording it:

    "Is it irritational for God to expect us to have faith without giving reasons for that faith?"

    If God were to choose to play by the rules of humans, then by our most commonly accepted definitions, yes, that would be irrational. But, completely allowable, as by most people's definitions God is all-powerful, and perfectly capable of doing what it wants, including being irrational.

    So if the question behind your question is "Does God have to provide proof?" The answer is no. God is not required to do anything. However, you are perfectly free to choose to believe in a God that provides proof, if you want.

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  20. #20
    mooo...wooh hoooh! schrackman's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Hi Rick,

    Quote Originally Posted by walterick
    What is God?
    Short answers.

    God is a Spirit, Creator, an object of worship.

    And how do you know that it cares?
    Divine revelation.

    And you? Same questions, except, how do you know God doesn't care?

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  21. #21
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Faith by definition is - The assured expectation of things to come though not yet beheld.

    So you are expected to believe that somehting is coming even though there is no proof or evidence that it ever will.

    My personal beliefs are Agnostic but definitely not Athiest.

    There is simply too much evidence of intelligent design for me to believe there is nothing... and yet... no one has ever given me a description of anything that I could agree with in the context of God. I have faith that there is a higher power but I simply do not believe that any of the so called religions on the planet have anything close to the right idea on what is the right path to follow Him. Being raised in a Christian house hold I never really felt they were correct in their teachings. And don't even get me started on the Devil.

    So in answer to the question in the title of this post - Faith would supercede proof for Christians simply based on it's definition alone.
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  22. #22
    mooo...wooh hoooh! schrackman's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Jaedon, the verse in Hebrews you quoted simply speaks to a Christian believing without yet seeing the promises afforded by God, and not that he has not been given good reason to support his belief in these promises. Notice the words assured expectation. Thus the writer is saying the Christian has assurance for what he expects his faith to bring him in the end as opposed to his faith being just a gamble that the Bible may be right about what it promises him for the future.

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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    As stated above, the question was loaded and forces an answer to satisfy the person asking the question. I think that any god capable of denying people entrance to any place in the afterlife based on how they believed or what they believed, and not on how they led their lives, is capable of any number of irrational things.

    As to intelligent design, there is no proof for it, and it is certainly no theory of any sort. It's premise, that things are just too complicated to have evolved without some supernatural helping hand, is completely a function of the inability of some minds to grasp the complexity of physical reality.

    All praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who is equally viable as the intelligent designer as any other being.

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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    This is an interesting read. I know God exists, but it is a knowledge born from personal experience. People tend to get frightened or angry, when you make statements that mess with the foundations of their beliefs. I think I know the truth about Jesus and why he led the life he did. I think much of that story has been warped to keep people divided. I know from personal experience that people who worship the Devil are as devoted in their faith as any christian. I have had one particular person scoff at me and state that his religion is centuries older than christianity, and he also hinted that his religion had created christianity. I know these folks are all over the place. I also know people will refuse to believe what I have to say.

    The truth is that it does not matter. If I could relate my experience and provide proof it would not make any difference. Your life is your argument, as I see it, most people I see make pretty convincing arguments for God. I know my life is a mockery, it is a sad joke, looked at from the outside, from my perspective, knowing what I have had to overcome, it is a triumph. I feel sorry for the people who have argued against God in their lives. There is simply no way for them to win.

    I sometimes wonder if this world is some sort of intestine for God, where life affirming entities are separated from life destroying entities. I note that the belief that every person has a soul (and a soul is the connection with God or a part of God) would lead one to speculate that with the increase in population there may be a God growing or a God being diminished by being drawn into a conflict.

    A pretty strange post, I know. If it were possible for anyone reading this to go through a day where they felt the love of God for them, and the love of their family and friends for them removed perhaps they would understand my point of view.
    "I don't like lizards", Frank Reynolds.

    "At one time there existed a race of people whose knowledge consisted entirely of gossip", George Carlin.

  25. #25
    Moderator Didache's Avatar
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    Re: Christianity requires no proof?

    Let's look at this another way. It MIGHT be rational for God to give proof of his existence, but would such a being truly BE God? (see my previous post for the reasons I say that). Whether someone believes in God or not, I think most of us would agree that such a being, by definition, would be much bigger than any "proof" we could contain within our limited mortal framework.

    Hence, I tend to think that understanding God is less of a logical exercise, and more akin to grasping poetry - it's a more intuitive thing, and therefore less subject to "proof". Jesus himself never tried to "prove" God - instead he (like the Buddha and other great spiritual teachers) told stories and parables. Why? Because stories and parables touch people on an intuitive level in a way that purely rational argument never can.

    In the end, people either believe in God or they don't. I have met very few though who have ever been convinced by argument or debate or "proof". Most people who believe do so for less "rational" reasons, such as a "feeling of being held", or "it all just seemed to make sense somehow", or "in a particular time in my life I sensed a divine presence supporting me". None of this will convince the sceptic, of course, but perhaps it points to an understanding of what spiritual faith is about.

    Cheers
    Mike
    Mike Dales ARPS
    My website: www.mikedalesphotography.co.uk

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