Lessons learned from an atheist
Lesson 1Reviewing these debates, as they go back and forth, the old expression about hindsight being perfect comes to mind. I can really see the things I could have done better, and the responses I should have made.
Lesson 2:Reading and rereading this debate, I see how far I have come in an ever growing humility. My own arrogance, blowhardiness and pride, at some times during this exchange even takes me aback. This, especially when I compare my newer, softer, less hard-lined persona and debating and argumentative strategies, to the ones I employed here.
Lesson 3:Looking back also, I realize how much this debate was able to confirm and solidify my own beliefs, and also how this debate had influenced my writings indirectly and sometimes very directly. It is probably right at this point in our debate that I was enticed to pen this poem which I will share here:
"Words" to an atheist -dj eckert
Hi there Mr. Atheist!
God, who you say does not exist...Well, HE compells me to tell you this :
I know you have your defense prepared...
"Because you can't see me, then I'm not there."
When your whisked away because your breath is goneAnd your carried through the celestial song...
As your life passes before you in quick reverse,and your self conviction becomes worse and worse...
In your sudden new found paradigm shiftYour appropriate words won't even fall from your lips...
They wont even form in your consciousnessDissipated under their own weight of ridiculousness.
The only thing to you that will still remain, is to rely on MY mercy love and grace, which right now you disdain.
Chadwick:Doug, I've been there and done that. You are having a relationship with yourself. There is no one listening to you when you pray, nor providing comfort, nor moving things around in your life according to his plan. It's all you. Some people do yoga, some meditate, some chant. Some drink or take drugs. You conduct a relationship with yourself, via invented proxy. Many people need this "arrangement" to deal with life. The problem is when they take actions in the real world, asserting they have the authority of a god on their side, e.g, Flying planes into buildings.
Doug:You are so right that religious groups kill people in their crazy beliefs. The very worst offenders are the Satanic loving illuminati that run the world and crash planes into buildings. As hideous as a crime that is, it still pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions they have killed by their wars.Political genocide, abortion, and the medical system to name but a few. You say you love truth, but I beg to differ, because you are obviously woefully ignorant about what runs the world. But, this strikes me as obvious because of your hate for God. I sincerely believe that God, truth and love are three things that are, for practical purposes, the same things. If something claims to be one of those three things, but misses one of those other components it is NOT what it claims to be. So, it surprises me not, that without an understanding of the character of God, you therefore have the incapacity to know real truth.I challenge you to show me anywhere in the Bible where Jesus EVER endorsed ANYTHING that could be construed by ANYONE as an act of violence. Aggression or hate (and calling sexual sin, a sin is NOT hate). So, anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ, and does something violent or aggressive, or anything against what Jesus taught, is not really a follower of Christ, now are they?
Chadwick, here I go again. Forgive me for the somewhat lame analogy in the first part of my ramblings. In the last half I am sharing with you an experience that I had, and had always been meaning to write down, which I finally did. So I thank you for inspiring me to do so. I have shared this with very few people by the way, but that is neither here nor there.I totally understand why you would feel the way you do and say what you do.But you know that what we actually know about our universe is akin to what you would know about your world around you if you lived in a tiny apartment your WHOLE life, had no communication with anything outside of the room, and nothing came in or out of the room. Now, you would know the inside of the room very well (this is like your brain). But your only clue to what is outside of this room comes from looking out the tiny peephole and seeing the hallway, walls and doors, and maybe an occasional person passing by. (A hint at more to one's life?) Or, maybe a few sounds from your neighbors through the walls (a supernatural experience?). Now, what if someone were to slip a note under your doorway? In this note, you might find a message that says if you do "X" exactly the way this note tells you, then I will slip a key with instructions under the door that will enable you to break out of your little prison, and experience more of your world. Obviously this note is like the Bible in my goofy little analogy. Now, you can hate being locked in the room, and you can hate whoever put you in there. You can also hate the person who slipped the note under the door and even hate the way it tells you to get the key to break you out. You could gratefully follow the instructions, and gain your freedom, or you could pridefully and hatefully say "screw you, I don't like your required ways, and I sure as hell hate what I perceive of you!, And keep your damn key!"
Either way, you are helpless and need something outside your known world to break you out. It really matters not WHAT the requirements are for you to follow to get out. It also matters not what your feelings are about what the morals seem to be of the thing outside of your prison that has a way for you to get out. To gain your freedom, It only matters that you obey the rules set forth.I know it's kind of a lame analogy, but it works in this instance. I know it seems that God is an "unreasonable monster" as you put it, but when you really get to know His character revealed by studying the Bible, you can really get to see that He is totally righteous and just in everything he is, was, and will be.
Because of this, I am quite sure that there might be some surprises to some Christians when it comes to who and how we go on after our physical bodies give out.
I want to share an experience I had once in my sleep. A dream? Perhaps, but in this "experience " I was whisked away to SOMEWHERE. As this happened, I was conscious of, and feeling enraptured by a phenomenally beautiful music. The best way my mind can explain it is as a blending of the beautiful, deeper tones of large wooden wind chimes mixed with the commonly thought of angelic, celestial "aaaaaahh" sounds. I sensed this feeling of travelling and an incredible kaleidoscope of lights. All the while feeling a very loving, female, non condemning "presence" over my left shoulder (or left ear?).
Towards the end of this "trip", I was left with the impression that I was shown my whole life in front of me, AND that I couldn't deny feeling a very condemning "spirit", for lack of a better word, upon my life. (I only remember the general impression that I was totally in agreement with, and felt it a totally fair judgement upon me.)
Now before I get to the "good part " of my experience, I'll back up a bit.
This was the year 2006, and upon awakening, I still remember thinking "Wow ! What the heck did I just experience there ?" It really stuck with me for several weeks and beyond. But, what really irritates me, is how I was such a spiritual screwup at the time of this, that many of the details, and even a very important detail, as I will share, of the most important part of the "trip" had eluded me, and still does.
The whole experience, quite honestly, didn't really SEEM to effect me very much at the time . This blows my mind today, looking back. My only excuse might be that my wife and I had just built our "dream house", and I had been working at least 80 hrs a week for at least the last year and was very distracted by all of that. I guess though, that I remember the parts of it that God wanted me to remember.
At the time of all this, I was a very "back slidden" Christian. The road back has taken me several years. Politically and mentally I was a very different person than what I am today. I was very much "asleep" as truth seekers call It now, to the way the world really works.
I guess I believed all the lies that are perpetrated upon us, in the same way that it seems most people still do today. (Very disheartening ). I say all this to get back to my "experience".
While feeling very condemned by what seemed a review of my life and probably, I'm guessing, about to receive my judgement and "just rewards" ; I remember this VERY AUTHORITIVE presence interceding and proclaiming : "No ! No ! Your time is NOT done! You are to go back and teach people about ..." (now this is the part that irritates me the most for being a "spiritual goof " I'll call it.)I cannot remember if it was "you are to go back and teach people about TRUTH" OR, "You are to go back and teach people about LOVE ". I have since come to think that maybe it was both, or maybe this is how God wanted me to remember it. This is what has really convinced me of my theory (nothing earth shattering) that Love and Truth and therefore God are all in essence, ONE.
Shortly after this (within 2 weeks ) I started experiencing severe atrial fibrillation and was hospitalized for it ; probably from swilling down way too much caffeine. This makes me think maybe my heart did stop in my sleep and maybe I HAD died, I don't know.
Say or think what you will of my experience, most dreams that I have ever had have been quickly forgotten. Not this one though. I know now too, from my studying of God's Word, that he often speaks through dreams. But whatever you want to call it, I feel that through God's Loving Grace I was given a second chance (Thank You Lord !!!).
I still don't know if my being a "truth seeker " is a result of God commanding me to do it, or if He was of course just knowing my future. But it really matters not. I think this also goes a long way into explaining why I see almost everything and I mean dang near EVERYTHING as a spiritual battle between God and Satan ; and THIS is why I write what I do.
I, nor anyone else knows exactly what this "Hell " is that the Bible alludes to. But it is clear that it is manifested by one being separated from God, and it seems certain that this separation is quite voluntary on our part. There are many brilliant theologians that have pondered this very thing.I also think that in your quest for truth, Chadwick, you are much closer to finding God than you realize. Again I say, ask God to show himself to you, and he REALLY Will not let you down, if you truly, sincerely seek him. I Know you know this is in the Bible.
Chadwick:I am in total agreement with you that the world is f**** up. None of that supports your assertion that a god exists. It actually supports my assertion that there is no god. And all of that evil has no need of a "Satan," either. I've said it, before, and I'll say it, again: IF your god exists, he allows immeasurable suffering to take place (he allows it, can stop it, and is thus responsible for it) and has no problem allowing human beings to be born, which he knows he will be sending to hell, forever. How you can worship such a monster is beyond me. In fact, it's amoral to do so. Sitting in heaven for eternity, while billions of your fellow humans concomitantly suffer in hell, is amoral and abhorrent, as well. This is what you're offering me to believe in? Why would that appeal to me?
------------ch 11Lessons learned:
As this debate rages on, and as I look at it retrospectively in an effort to asess the lessons I myself learned from it, I am continually amazed at how much this intellectual probing had shaped my beliefs.
Lesson 2:I can also see how my writing came into being by the thoughts or arguments that were being shaped in my mind. I am reminded here about how much our faith as a blessing depends on well... our faith .... in things NOT seen by us. Jesus pointed this out to the "doubting Thomas" in John 20:29 niv :
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
This idea is what inspired this write:
The final realization of John 20:29-
When the coldness and darkness of the night ...which is known to us as our mortal lives
comes to a dawn, and the wet translucent dew of any doubtthat has condensed on the fertile grounds of our minds
and as the Risen Son,in all HIS Glory radiates our whole NEW mourning pilgrimaged, morning soul filled orbs ....
as the PURE white Lightof God's TRUTH bathes us in HIS rapturouscleansing all penetrating POWER!
The ridiculousness of any lingering dewthat covered our minds will be instantly dissipated away
NO WONDER...when God walked with man, died for us, and came to life again...
and AS HE stood therein ALL of HIS Resurrected GLORY
HIS compassion,EVEN THEN, let the likes of a doubting Thomasexplore HIS scarred side and HIS hands.
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
THE LORD is much more concerned with our steadfast hearts than HE is with our dewy,and faltering heads.
Oh what a transformational dawning that will be!
Chadwick:Well, I appreciate your concern and what I believe are heartfelt beliefs about the world we live in. However, the analogy doesn't work for me. If I were in a room, and needed to understand the world outside, or to get out, and the only way to understand or get out was to follow some amoral instructions slipped under the door, I would stay in my room. I would use the scientific method and figure it out on my own - I don't buy that there is only one way out. That said, the bible doesn't qualify as a method of understanding the world, unless you really work at it and use other sources, and your own morality and ethics to interpret it - and if you're doing that, why put the bible on a pedestal? Stick to the Golden Rule and the Golden Mean, and go from there. Look at all holy books, great literature, philosophy, etc., And the answers are there, when it comes to spirituality and meaning - NOT when it comes to understanding the physical world or universe. As to your spiritual, "near death" experience, I believe you experienced something very real to you. However, "near death" experiences can be induced by drugs - and chemicals produced in the brain, itself. The brain can make them feel very real. I am not persuaded by them. As to god showing himself to me, believe me, I really, really, really, really spent years praying for just that. He let me down. Sorry, but it's true. I don't actually believe that, as I don't believe he exists. The "let down" was me just waking up to the fact that he wasn't there. It was a freeing experience. Is it hard to live in the world without a belief in a higher power to save me and give me meaning? Yes, it can be, and at other time's it's not - just like it's not hard/ for believers sometimes. And, I may decide to check out some day. I feel free to do so, with no philosophical or spiritual fear. I have always had an affinity for Bartleby, the Scrivener, and some day I may just "prefer not to." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartleby,_the_Scrivener. Bottom line: the concept of a god just doesn't make sense to me anymore, not in the least. I'm no where near finding god, again. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. It would be like trying to believe in the Easter Bunny, again - not that I ever did believe in the Easter Bunny. But, if my parents had been the kind who told their kids that he really existed, then I would have believed for a bit of time, at least. That's how far I am from believing in a god, ever again. I can't fool myself into belief. I'm immune.
Doug: (The following is excerpted from The screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis).
You have only got to keep him out of the way of experienced Christians (an easy task now-a-days), to direct his attention to the appropriate passages in scripture, and then to set him to work on the desperate design of recovering his old feelings by sheer will-power, and the game is ours. If he is of the more hopeful type, your job is to make him acquiesce in the present low temperature of his spirit and gradually become content with it, persuading himself that it is not so low after all. In a week or two you will be making him doubt whether the first days of his Christianity were not, perhaps, a little excessive. Talk to him about "moderation in all things". If you can once get him to the point of thinking that "religion is all very well up to a point", you can feel quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all--and more amusing. Another possibility is that of direct attack on his faith. When you have caused him to assume that the trough is permanent, can you not persuade him that "his religious phase" is just going to die away like all his previous phases? Of course there is no conceivable way of getting by reason from the proposition "I am losing interest in this" to the proposition "This is false". But, as I said before, it is jargon, not reason, you must rely on. The mere word phase will very likely do the trick. I assume that the creature has been through several of them before--they all have--and that he always feels superior and patronising to the ones he has emerged from, not because he has really criticised them but simply because they are in the past. (You keep him well fed on hazy ideas of Progress and Development and the Historical Point of View, I trust, and give him lots of modern Biographies to read? The people in them are always emerging from Phases, aren't they?) You see the idea? Keep his mind off the plain antithesis between True and False. Nice shadowy expressions--"It was a phase"--"I've been through all that"--and don't forget the blessed word "Adolescent", (or Easter Bunnies, my addition).
This is an excerpt from the screwtape letters (letter number 9 ). Being I know you would never read it, I thought I would trick you into it a little. Recently when I read this passage, it seemed to be pertinent to you. The book is quite brilliant and really addresses a lot of your "arguments " along with your buddy's book "mere Christianity". I STILL STRONGLY RECCOMEND THEM to you. I probably got another long diatribe coming in response to your last response. (If you had any doubt.) lol.
Chadwick:I watched one of Lisa Lings shows on OWN, ( Oprah Winfrey Network) the other night. She took an in depth look at "deliverance" religions. I was struck by the inconsistency in their belief system. They assert that as Christians they have absolute authority to cast out demons, but it took hours to cast them out, and people had to keep coming back to be "re-delivered," time and time, again. It all goes back to the "mustard seed" worth of faith. Their own experiences contradict that they profess to believe, and they can't see it. They can't see it, because it would mean tossing over their belief system. Their god can't fail, because they won't let him fail.
Doug:Just off the cuff , I would say that these people "delivered " from the demons, that unless they "filled themselves with Jesus" so to speak, it's VERY LIKELY that the demons would go back in. It seems very consistent with Biblical teaching I have heard. Were these people who were delivered claiming to be Christians? One great lesson throughout scriptures is a long suffering patience and dependence on God, so expecting Him to be some kind of "performing monkey"to prove His existence and Him not doing so as some kind of proof of your conclusion of Christians "not letting him fail" as you call it, is not at all Biblical.
I think I've heard of Lisa Ling, but what is OWN? Is that some network? I don't watch much of the "propaganda propellors " I like to call them.
Chadwick:Oh yes, they were Christians. And it is inconsistent to proclaim Jesus' absolute power, and then have difficulty tossing out demons. We are back to the "grain of sand" problem, again, which neither you, nor anyone, has been able to answer satisfactorily. It's all excuses and explanations, trying to "cover" for the inconsistency between what your god promises, and what he actually, allegedly, delivers.
Doug:Hey Chadwick, I hope all is going well for you.I am assuming by your "grain of sand" comment that you MEANT "mustard seed of faith".
I am reminded though, how I just read somewhere that my God created more stars than there are grains of sand on all the beaches in the world. This in turn reminds me how I, and I guess everybody is guilty of putting God and his creative powers in a box. I "cheapen" Him when I try to describe or explain Him, or even when I try to understand Him. I know this sounds like "crazy religious zealousness" to you, but think about it. If God IS real (and I will continue to try and prove this to you... ) don't you think that someone who truly believes and understands that God is REAL would say such things? I know it's kind of a circular reasoning, but bear with me.
God's power, knowledge, and energy are all boundless.
Really, even your blathering (or mine) over "God popping into existence" "or not " becomes just that if God is real. (Prove THAT wrong).
His love is also boundless.Chadwick, in God's eyes you are HIS. Beautiful, beyond any precious jewel. He created YOU for a Purpose, a wonderful magnificent purpose that will give you a hope and a future. His love for you is unfathomable. He knows YOU better than you know yourself. He even named you. (Do you think the being that created the heavens can't put a little answer to a thought like "what shall we name him?" Into your parents' brains?) He says He knew you before you were formed in your mother's womb. What this means about your soul's existence before your humanly incarnation? I do not know. An interesting area for exploration I guess. I imagine (no, I KNOW) it's in the manufacturer's manual somewhere for me to find. I tell you, the more you study that Thing, the more astounding and amazing that Thing becomes. It's probably, besides His creation, His most obvious way that He reveals Himself to us.
Because His love is boundless, His heartbreak is also boundless over the fact that you choose NOT to commune with Him. Maybe for no other reason than only he knows, that you are missing out on all the great things that He created YOU for. Now I am reminded of all the Great things God has for me, that I am quite sure I am missing out on because I don't ask for, or forget to, or refuse to ask for. Thank God, there is an owner's manual for me to study!
Also, don't you think that if God were to reveal himself to us in the obvious kind of way that YOU require, that he might feel like a multimillionaire who has lots of "friends"?
It seems once you start REALLY accepting His more subtle revelations of Himself, the more He starts beating you over the head with His presence. This makes sense to me when I get to know his True character. Enough of the esoteric stuff.
Chadwick, do you honestly believe that the show you watched wasn't "programmed " into their broadcast line up for a reason? Do you not see that this show was aimed at such a searching soul as yours? Do you REALLY think that they would show you a successful exorcism? (Which I know happens everyday.)
I challenge you to look into who owns the station that owns that station. And then find out who owns the corporation that owns the corporation, that owns that corporation, then find who sits on its board of directors (I will bet that its one of 10 to fifteen people who have even written books saying: (paraphrased) "They Love Lucifer ( because he gives them all their wealth and power), and they are serving Lucifer and are working with him to usher in a New World Order." If you need direction in this endeavor, I would be glad to help. Also look into who owns and produced the Nova shows, (well I'll be ...it's the same people... well what do ya know ? )You see, the more you study the TRUTH in the world, the more it points to God, and all the things in the manual. (Especially the last bunch of pages which also cross reference in a whole bunch of spots with pages all throughout the manual).
Now in regards to your continued "mustard seed" contention. This was given to us by Jesus as a thing to shoot for. This doesn't mean that maybe many people haven't achieved it, or even that I, will or won't achieve it.I must admit that it even bugs me that, to the best of my knowledge, no man has gotten a mountain to jump into the ocean. Here is what I have learned in studying the gifts of the Holy Spirit. What they are is a "channelling of God's Will ", so for us to be truly successful in this endeavor, we need to be in one accord with God's will. This comes from an understanding of God's Love and God's Truth.I am beginning to understand that although a lot of Christians have Biblical truth,there is a great break in their application of this truth, because for whatever reason they refuse to see and understand the Truth of Satan's real part and participation in this world.
So we can do ANYTHING when it comports to God's will. I am suspecting that God is more concerned with more important things, like the state of a man's soul, than more mundane things like throwing a mountain into some body of water. Chadwick, I know God CAN heal you, so I am praying for you to get healed. Although I suspect God has more than THAT in His will for you.
So, in conclusion, I know God is also channelling His will (healing, ultimately leading to a communion with Him. ) towards us in His same inobvious way.
Maybe when it IS His will, a mere man will throw said mount into said sea.