Michael Battalio

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

This I Believe (12)

I’m about to be brutally honest. Here is the problem. Not only do Christians of the evangelical variety believe they are correct because the Bible tells them so, but they also believe they are better than people that are more moral, more caring, more loving, and that are just generally better people than they are, just because they were indoctrinated in or adopted the “correct” religion from childhood. Also, it is demanded of them to correct the heathen masses who aren’t Christian exactly as they are Christian or rebuke and condemn them if they refuse.

And if “God” supports this, then that is not a God I want to believe in, a god of intolerance, hate, and mockery. And if hell is complete separation from a petty, intolerant god, then I welcome it. But, I believe in a God of love, and perhaps that isn’t the Christian God they believe in and perhaps it is, just the actual Christian God. Condemn me all you want.

The problem with religion is that all religions are based off of books (Bible included) of dubious credibility - books that have contradicted themselves and were written by fallible, corruptible human beings even if they were inspired by divinity. On top of this, it is left up to other corruptible, fallible human beings to interpret what those books say. So now not only can the original manuscripts be wrong, but the interpretation of an incorrect manuscript be wrong. And the fact is no Christian has any idea, nor does anyone else in any other religion. Everyone thinks they know, but no one actually does for sure. One may feel moved by divinity, but are they sure, really sure? Is anyone sure? Or do they just think they’re sure? (Is there anything beyond a feeling? And how do you express, convince others that your feeling is correct?) That to me is the definition of gullibility: the ability to believe in the credibility of something that can be wrong in so many ways but can never be questioned by the believers simply because that object of belief maintains its own legitimacy.
And maybe that is why I don’t have faith anymore, because it seems that people with an absurdly strong faith in any religion are gullible. I really don’t know. All I know is that I don’t want to believe I was created in the image of an intolerant, petulant, revengeful, and seemingly unintelligent (if ignoring good science [i.e. evolution] is a requirement) being.

The difference is, not every Christian is like Anon2 (or Anon1 for that matter), and that’s why I can still call myself Christian, because there are decent, intelligent people of that religion. Truthfully, I think we’ll all end up in heaven, assuming any divinity exists (I think that only then will we understand each other.), but for very different reasons. Both of us are undoubtedly misguided, but that’s why God is all loving, because by being human we could never please the intolerant, petulant god you speak of. Everyone has some measure of doubt. Let me repeat that. Everyone has some measure of doubt (We wouldn’t be human if we believed all the time.). So how do you measure how strong someone’s faith is against another’s? If good works aren’t good enough for God, how much faith does it take for them to become good? If good works are filthy rags simply because we don’t believe, then all works are filthy rages because at some point everyone doesn’t believe because we are all human. If we did believe 100% all the time we would be divine. No one could get to heaven otherwise.


Anonymous said...

Anon. 2 posting:
Okay, mbat. This last post of yours is a whine session. And you have completely missed the point. And you have initiated anger in my flesh. I will pray that I will remain civil throughout the points I am about to make, but I can't guarantee it...

1. Point one and overall point. I am sick and tired of you assuming that I think I am better than you or perhaps any other Christian. I never stated this. You said this. So it's on you. Conversely, I can state that I am righteous and not ruined, because the Bible says that I am due to the fact I have accepted Christ as my savior and leader of my life. And mbat, no, not everyone will make it into heaven. If everyone would go to heaven, why would Jesus so adamantly speak of hell in the holy scripture? Actually many times! Haven't we been through this before. You can interpret the Bible however you want to make you feel any way you desire, but the bottom line is, you refuse to believe what the Bible says, and therefore, you cannot progress or make it to heaven without faith. Those are not my words, those are the words of the holy scriptures. Mbat, you are very conceited and arrogant rather frequently. Come away from it. We all understand you enjoy "showing" off from time to time, but now it's becoming sickening. I would assume that because of this negative characteristic, you have no idea of where you're going in your life, or what you want to do with your life. What a miserable existence that must be! I have absolutely no clue if you are in school now or working on the job, but I would bet that you are still in school, living solely through your own power and "prestige", and then when you do finally graduate, you will be severely depressed. Simply because your power has been ripped from you. You are powerful now in school, and you know this. You set the tone, you show your ability. You You You You!!! However, you don't know what the heck you are doing or what you will do when you finally come to the real world. That's why you have probably been in school forever! (and I have no idea if this is true like I stated, I just know your type, and forgive me if I'm wrong)...I'm trying to come away from my harsh tone, but you have upset my flesh, and since you say we are only human, you've caused my flesh to lash out, however, I ultimately made the choice too allow you to affect me negatively. Ultimately you can deny this all you desire, but in the end, you know that it's probably altogether the truth. Turn your heart from you to Christ. It's not all about you anymore. Actually most people probably despise this quality that you exhibit.

2. Why are you so fixated on strong faith? Will faith get you into heaven or strong faith get you into heaven? Please respond to this question. I suggest you begin reading some scripture, especially in Romans. The scripture said that "wisdom comes from those who ask for it", and I do not believe for a minute you have ever asked God for wisdom in whatever you are searching for.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 2 posting:
Now that I have cooled off I have some questions for you and reflection...

When I told my Christian friends I was struggling with doubts many years ago, many of them responded by criticizing me for being weak in the faith. What kind of help is that? In answer to my problem, they merely told me I had a problem, and perhaps I've done this to you, and I apologize. But you won't get reprieve too quickly.
It's kind of like a fellow who visits his doctor and says, "Doc, it hurts really bad when I swallow." Nodding sagely, the doctor replies, "You have a sore throat," then grabs his golf clubs and departs. It encourages me that Jesus didn't rebuke St. Thomas for doubting. Instead, Jesus offered him evidence of the truth.
Fact is, Jesus never rebuked anyone for doubting, only for refusing to consider the evidence.
Why did God include the record of "doubting Thomas" in His Bible? He did it for me. Perhaps for you as well?
Then Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:27-29

Faith that is based merely on emotional feelings is a fair weather friend. Feelings go sour when life turns sour. For this reason, Jesus commands me to love God with all my heart, soul, MIND, and strength (Mark 12:30).
On those days when I am "in a deep hole" and God seems not to care, my feelings say "God? What God?"
But my mind, bad feelings or not, says, "Shut up fool! You can't deny the evidences. You can't deny all you have learned from the Bible. God is there. Trust Him!"

Worldly wisdom creates doubt by such methods as the constant advocacy of evolution theory in schools, TV programs, etc., under the guise of science (falsely so called). From the beginning Satan has attempted to raise doubts about the honesty and goodness of God. Daily, he still whispers in our ears, "Yea, hath God said?"
Perhaps the greatest source of Christian doubt is the weakness of our own flesh.
"We have met the enemy and he is us."
"Too much analysis leads to paralysis."
"The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Mt 26:41)
As with Peter, we too often take our eyes off the Lord, to gawk in alarm at the raging storms around us. When we do, we sink into the sea of our own doubts.

Christianity is not based on "a blind leap of faith," but upon specific evidences of the truth. Evidences such as the empty tomb, the eye-witness testimony of over 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus Christ, and much more.
In Lk 22.31-32, notice that Jesus did not say He had prayed that Simon Peter would be exempt from Satan's attack. No, Jesus prayed that Simon's faith would not fail during that attack. And remember, God didn't keep Daniel out of the den of lions. Instead, God protected him while he was among the lions (Dan 6.16-22). When I confronted dire circumstances in the past, I always asked God to make the problem go away. Now I know better how to pray. Oh yes, I still ask God to eliminate my problems, but now I also ask Him to sustain my faith if He decides I must go through those problems.
Based on Lk 22.31-32, I KNOW Jesus prays right along with me, that my faith should not fail. Ask God to sustain your faith. Christ will pray right along with you. Does it work? Oh yes! God never fails!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon. 2 posting:
I'm coming to a place where I've almost figured you out, mbat. I'm beginning to believe now that there is no point discussing religion or anything with someone who will never make any decisions in life and come out of a malaise existence. Allow me to sum up a few points I have reflected upon in a couple of paragraphs:
(Be angry if you want; it surely doesn't upset me...however, if you become angry, you've allowed YOURSELF to become angry, so it's on you)...I'm just giving my thoughts whether you become upset or not. I am not making accusations, just observations! Since you seem to be intelligent, please refrain from confusing the two:

1. You seem very defensive, and quite pompous and pretentious. In my profession, I often come across many people and meeting some great intellectual character is something special. They are stuck on themselves. They enjoy showing their talents (and I knew I was probably right because you stated in one of your previous posts that you played music in church). Whatever instrument you play, you enjoy the attention or lack thereof, but you come away from your church unfulfilled simply because you are not what you had hoped. And no one else probably thinks you are either. I actually wonder why people like you think themselves larger than life and show off what they are not. Instead, I wish you would put a little effort to allow the glory to go directly to Christ. The glory goes to you now, and it's time you stopped it. When I meet people similar to you, first all seems so true and genuine. They always portray that they are extremely talented, fun loving, with many unique qualities and so good that if they see someone needy they are ready to help them. They reflect that they can do multitasking and even in stress, they are the best. I do wonder if these kinds of people have a magic wand with them and think that what ever they touch becomes gold. Trust me I always wonder why some people try to be pretentious and pompous? When I look at them, I do understand that they have inferiority complex about themselves and have this feeling that people will take them for granted if they present their true self. They could start with small showoff but gradually these grow and trap them in their own false belief. When I come across people who are pretentious and pompous, I want to tell them that when you can think so good about yourself and feel pride about it then why don't you try your best to be real and natural?

2. You more than likely have a problem with faith. Some people do not think they need a Savior. These people consider themselves to be “basically good” and do not realize that they, like all people, are sinners who cannot come to God on their own terms. But Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Those who reject Christ will not be able to stand before God and successfully plead their own case on their own merits. Many people are simply resisting the Holy Spirit’s attempts to draw them to faith in Christ. Stephen, a leader in the early church, told those who were about to murder him, “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51). The apostle Paul made a similar statement to a group of gospel rejecters in Acts 28:23-27. You seem to resist what God wants to do for you. But you are focused only on yourself, and sorry, mbat, it's not going to work for you.

Anonymous said...

Continued from previous post:

3. To be free from your own prison, mbat, you must conform to the will of God Himself. You can't do it alone. It is written, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." If we do not submit ourselves in all humility to God's will how can His will be done? Only they who do the will of God can enter into the kingdom of God, that interior life so precious that they who find it build upon treasures unknown to this world. Conforming to anything seems to be a most difficult task for many. Through out all history there are many accounts of those who oppose others' thoughts and ideas. The reasons a non-conformist refuses to submit to conformity are as varied as the number of people who refuse to accept what most people call the norm. Yet, it would seem to me that for the most part, non-conformists feel that to submit to the will of their opponent would be a violation of freedom. Nonetheless, conforming to the will of God is a difficult task, no question. Yet, conforming to the will of God will give you immeasurable gifts in the kingdom of heaven and an inner peace which grows as the seed of conformity is nurtured. The non-conformist feels that conforming is a violation of their freedom. However, in the case of conforming to the will of God, one obtains peace, which is the greatest of freedoms. In this freedom of peace we come to worship the Creator rather than the creature.

Just some thoughts...

Anonymous said...

Oh, by the way, mbat, my Psy.D. friend has stated that he believes most everything I have posted in the previous two posts, a few differences, but that he, for the most part, agrees with my statements. I know this doesn't really phase you, but, I wanted someone else to read your posts as well to observe what you are writing. Additionally, he stated that you may have some issues with your best friends (and I did not know what he was talking about when he told me this). He stated to me that more than likely you coveted your very best friend when you were in high school or college as well as his/her intelligence(the psychological term is "non-mutual,non-appropriational psycho-intellectual desire"...

Just his thoughts...

Michael B. said...

Your friend probably needs his license removed if he is diagnosing based off of blog posts. I hope he doesn't do that with patients he is actually "treating".

Michael B. said...

Just to prove your point. I don't play in church to show off. I know I'm good. I play in church because I feel that playing the music is the closest I get to God anymore. If you are not a musician, I cannot expect you to understand. If you are a musician, you should understand and not continue questioning my reasons. As far as everything else, you continue to quote the Bible when I am questioning its own validity. Prove to me the Bible is correct, without citing the Bible as a reference, then you can legitimately quote the Bible. And I don't really care what someone I will never know thinks of me, so call me pompous and pretentious. I will call you arrogant, condescending, and childish, and I'm sure it doesn't mean anything to you. Discussion matters, not our feelings about one another. I'll post tomorrow hopefully.

Anonymous said...

Ok, mbat, since you know you're good at whatever you do, you've just proved my point in the previous post. You know I'm right when I state my opinion, but let's assume I'm not and continue our discussion without becoming angry. It seems as if I am, and perhaps I have made you this way as well. You ask me to prove the validity of the Bible. Okay. This is not the first time I've tried to do this with atheists or atheist wannabes. I don't believe for a minute you have even or ever tried to research if the Bible is truly the inspired word of God or that it is valid. So here we go:

Skeptics abound and the Bible itself tells us we should be ready to give an answer to those who ask about our faith. As the apostle Peter said, "Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15). So what are some of the main proofs that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and should be taken literally? There are 5 proofs I provide atheists:

1. The unity of the Bible--
According to the traditional chronology for the writing of all the biblical books, it took around 1,500 years to complete the Bible—a very long time. Imagine, for comparison's sake, that a collection of several dozen books about the historical, cultural and religious heritage of a people began to be written around the year A.D. 500, a few years after the collapse of the Roman Empire. These books would then have been completed 1,500 years later—in our day. Also, some 40 different authors would have been involved over this long span and their language and thought would have reflected their changing surroundings and conditions. If there is something the history of this world's religious literature shows, it's that values and principles change over time. Even within his own lifetime, an author normally undergoes notable changes in his system of values. His writings reflect his ideas and thoughts according to his stage in life. It's interesting to note how different his ideas are as a young man compared to when he grows old. This pattern is common and well-known.

Yet when the Bible is analyzed in this way, we find it is strikingly different. Although its books were written by about 40 authors spanning some 1,500 years, they all maintain an amazing consistency. From Genesis to Revelation, the major themes never change. History progresses, but the themes of love, faith, obedience, mercy and a loving and righteous God intent on redeeming a disobedient mankind do not change. This unity of thought and principles is unique in the world's literary history. One of the foremost Bible scholars of the past century, Dr. F.F. Bruce, wrote: "The Bible is not simply an anthology [a collection of books]; there is a unity which binds the whole together...Any part of the human body can only be properly explained in reference to the whole body. And any part of the Bible can only be properly explained in reference to the whole Bible" (from The Books and the Parchments: How We Got Our English Bible).

Anonymous said...

2. The Bible is non-mythical---
Another striking difference between the Bible and other religious works is the absence of mythical stories and legends. While many will surely debate this, we should consider the following. Other creation accounts in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America include such mythological scenarios as gods feuding and cutting up other gods to form the heavens and the earth. The religious works of the Greeks described the earth being held up by the god Atlas, while in India, the Hindu religion pictured the earth as supported on the backs of eight huge elephants. Yet the Bible describes God hanging the earth "on nothing" (Job 26:7). This was written millennia before Isaac Newton discovered the invisible laws of gravity that showed the earth truly is suspended "on nothing." In contrast to every other ancient creation account, the Bible pictures the creation of the earth in a very scientific manner. In Genesis 1, the continents are lifted from the seas. Then vegetation is created and, later, animal life—all reproducing "according to its kind"—recognizing fixed genetic laws. Finally we have the creation of man and woman, all done in a dignified and godly manner, without mythological adornments.
The rest of the Bible follows suit. The narratives are historical, faithfully reflecting society and culture as history and archaeology would discover them thousands of years later. And while there may be disputes among archaeologists about certain details of the accounts, there is a general consensus of the Bible's accuracy. Not only is the Bible historically accurate, but when it deals with scientific subjects, it is also reliable. This is one of the reasons the Bible can be accepted as a trustworthy document that should be taken literally. Although it was not written as a textbook on history, science, mathematics or medicine, when the writers of Scripture touch on these subjects, they were inspired by God not to make mistakes, but to write what was true—sometimes stating facts that scientific advancement would not reveal or even consider for thousands of years. Consider, for example, astronomy. Scientists today have discovered evidence that the universe had a beginning, when space, matter and time suddenly appeared from nowhere. This is reminiscent of what Genesis 1:1 says: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Many scientists have stated that a sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist's pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation.

Anonymous said...

3. The Bible is intact---
Of all the ancient works of substantial size, only the Bible comes to us completely intact. This is against all odds and expectations. In comparison, William Shakespeare's plays, written only about 400 years ago, and after the invention of the printing press, are in much worse shape. Shakespeare's original words have been lost in numerous sections, and scholars are left to fill in the blanks as best as they can. But when it comes to the Bible, its uncanny preservation has permitted it to weather thousands of years of wars, persecutions, fires and invasions, and still remain intact. Mbat, have you ever read any of Josh McDowell's books? You should! As author McDowell notes: "Compared with other ancient writings, the Bible has more manuscript evidence to support it than any ten pieces of classical literature combined" (from The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict--great book to read, mbat! There are more than 5,686 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Add over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and at least 9,300 other early versions, and we have close to, if not more than, 25,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existence today. No other document of antiquity even begins to approach such numbers. How can you dispute this, mbat? YOU CAN'T!

4. The Bible tells events ahead of time---
Dozens of specific prophecies deal with Jesus Christ and were fulfilled in precise detail. No other ancient sacred book even dares to deal with predictive prophecy—making the Bible unique.

Anonymous said...

5. The Bible yields results if you let it work for you---
The Bible is one of the most important documents in the history of civilization not only because of its status as holy, inspired Scripture, but also because of its pervasive influence on Western thought. Moreover, the impact Jesus Christ has had in millions of lives continues unabated. The French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said: "I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible terms of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him." A battle is indeed being waged in Western culture over God and the Bible. You could visit several places around the world displaying similar finds that verify many other parts of the Bible—the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, among others. Oddly enough, those who argue against the Bible typically say that those of us who believe in it base our beliefs in ignorance and superstition. But in reality, once one seriously examines the evidence, the truth is the opposite. It's those who don't believe the Bible who show that their beliefs are based in superstition and ignorance. Often they've simply never seriously looked at the evidence and in many cases seem unaware that such things as those described in this article even exist. But you need not be ignorant. You certainly can believe the Bible. Its accuracy has been proven time and time again, and continues to be proven year after year as archaeologists and scholars continue their work digging up history in the lands of the Bible.

Mbat, since I have taken the time to prove my point, I would like for you to prove to me the Bible does not exist. If you can do this, you might actually have some points that are not ignorant and that I can take seriously without laughing my head off!

Michael B. said...

Truthfully this is becoming counterproductive and really isn't helping me, so I'm turning comments off again. I may turn them on again in a couple months. The one person commenting has developed a vendetta against me, and I'm tired of defending myself instead of actually discussing things. Lastly, I'm not questioning anyone's education. Anyone who tries to diagnose someone from a what is probably less than 20 pages of text and no face to face conversation should really question their professional bias and morality.

Michael B. said...

I’ve been asking for my faith to be sustained every since I first started this crisis of faith, and look where this has led me. Obviously I do have a problem with faith, that’s why I’ve been making all of these posts. And it isn’t that I don’t think I need a savior; I think I do. I just don’t think he exists.

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