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Is the world really searching for truth?

OzSpen

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Okay, no argument! But there is such a problem with what I understand abut Mr. Dawkins. He has been a main stream idol for some time now because he denies the supernatural and no matter how much he disbelieves God is, God still is and for me, like Jethro, his opinions matter not because he will not open his scope to truth that matters.

The issue is not about Richard Dawkins being 'a main stream idol' (your language). The issue addressed in this thread is: 'Is the world really seeking for truth?'

I gave an example of one Richard Dawkins who presented his understanding of truth on YouTube. Both you and Jethro has gotten side-tracked on the person in the illustration I gave. I do not support Dawkins' worldview, but he demonstrated in the link I gave that he is interested in discussing truth.

The title of this thread is not: Is the world really seeking for Christian truth?
I was attempting to address the topic and I believe I was but now Dawkins is the big bogeyman because I used him as an example.

Here are 53 quotes about seeking truth.

Oz
 

OzSpen

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Sorry can't see you having given a definition of truth. Just a link to a website to someone who else who gives a definition of truth.

Once again I can't see your definition of truth.

Once again I can't see your definition of truth. Once again a pop at me.

I can't see your definition of truth. Just a slur on me.

Once again no definition of what you believe to be truth.

Don't you read what I write? Please take a read of what I wrote at #144. There I provided a few definitions of truth. Now you have the audacity to say 'I can't see you having given a definition of truth'.

You seem to have selective vision.
 

Wrg1405

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The issue is not about Richard Dawkins being 'a main stream idol' (your language). The issue addressed in this thread is: 'Is the world really seeking for truth?'

I gave an example of one Richard Dawkins who presented his understanding of truth on YouTube. Both you and Jethro has gotten side-tracked on the person in the illustration I gave. I do not support Dawkins' worldview, but he demonstrated in the link I gave that he is interested in discussing truth.

The title of this thread is not: Is the world really seeking for Christian truth?
I was attempting to address the topic and I believe I was but now Dawkins is the big bogeyman because I used him as an example.

Here are 53 quotes about seeking truth.

Oz
Do these quotes refer to Dawkins quotes?

I have watched a few videos of Dawkins and it seems to me his only interest is to slap down anybody whom has a religious bent. To be fair he does at times make valid points as to how religion and their Gods cannot be true, based on what religion has done to the world and its believers. He represnts his views very well. His understating of truth is not the same as ours but he seems to want to extinguish our understand of truth and replace it with his.

He even markets t-shirts to find the cure for religion. No God
 
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th1b.taylor

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I gave an example of one Richard Dawkins who presented his understanding of truth on YouTube
The simple of it all is reputation! There are men in the military I would follow to te gates of Hell ad there were and there are men of Obama's reputation that I would shoot in the back before we left our base. Dawkins is of the latter case. It is your right to listen to him as it is my and Jethro's right to hold the man to be of ill report and inconsequential. You see, truth does matter and there is only One Truth and that is irrefutable, just as Jethro appeared to be trying to have you to understand.

My Truth and Your Truth cannot exist with the presence of The Truth.
 

Wrg1405

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Don't you read what I write? Please take a read of what I wrote at #144. There I provided a few definitions of truth. Now you have the audacity to say 'I can't see you having given a definition of truth'.

You seem to have selective vision.
Oh dear I didn't see post 144. Why? because that wasn't part of the quotes on the post that you replied to me with.

So yes I can have that audacity.

To be quite frank with you I have actually stopped reading your posts. To me your only concern is to prove yourself right and everyone wrong. You just give links to websites and don't answer questions. I only respond to your replies to me. Why? Because you have accused me of stuff that I don't beleive in, yet when I say I don't you just keep on going.

Get your head out of the books, stop continually giving links to sites and start loving people. If you want to make your point do it in a loving way, as Jesus would.

Take that log out of your eye and ask God for a new pair of glasses for your vision.
 

OzSpen

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The simple of it all is reputation! There are men in the military I would follow to te gates of Hell ad there were and there are men of Obama's reputation that I would shoot in the back before we left our base. Dawkins is of the latter case. It is your right to listen to him as it is my and Jethro's right to hold the man to be of ill report and inconsequential. You see, truth does matter and there is only One Truth and that is irrefutable, just as Jethro appeared to be trying to have you to understand.

My Truth and Your Truth cannot exist with the presence of The Truth.

Bill,

You say, 'there is only One Truth'. Is the truth of the force of gravity part of that One Truth?

Oz
 

reba

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The lounge if for some light discussion the personal jabs are getting out of hand ... God said this among other things..

2Co 6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
2Co 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
2Co 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; In forums and threads


Php_4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Do not reply to this post in this thread.. Staff
 

Jethro Bodine

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This is a red herring.
Actually, it's not.
It illustrates how 'truth', and 'something that is true' are not categorically equivalent to each other, except to fallen man who erroneously thinks they are. As Hitler well knows now, his kingdom of white supremacy was not truth at all, though he had succeeded in making it true to a large degree in Europe in the '40s.
 

th1b.taylor

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Bill,

You say, 'there is only One Truth'. Is the truth of the force of gravity part of that One Truth? All is based on God.

Oz
Yes, without God there is would be neither the need nor prescience of gravity.
 

OzSpen

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Yes, without God there is would be neither the need nor prescience of gravity.

Bill,

You have added to what I wrote in your backquote. I wrote: 'You say, 'there is only One Truth'. Is the truth of the force of gravity part of that One Truth?' Then you or somebody else added, 'All is based on God'. I did not make this latter sentence. See #167. I hope the moderators note this addition to what I wrote that was wrongly attributed to me.

Oz
 

kiwidan

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Theres only one true Most High, yet a million doctrine handed downover the centuries, thats why doctrine is important, yet many seem to think its not a issue we all worship the same God in the end, denominations dont matter, bla bla bla.

The scriptures cannot express more how important doctrine is and even as Jesus talked about a narrow path to the real truth.
 
R

Runner

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Truth is that which corresponds to reality. For Christians, the Bible is “true” because the God of Christianity, who Christians believe to be the ultimate reality, is the author. A Young Earth Creationist will accept the “truths” of the Bible even when they do not correspond to observable reality because God, as the ultimate reality, transcends observable reality. If observable reality conflicts with ultimate reality, by definition it must be observable reality that is false or at least badly misunderstood. If someone does not accept the God of Christianity as the ultimate reality, however, the Bible is just a book and anything in it that does not correspond to observable reality is simply false. This is likewise true of the moral teachings in the Bible. For the Christian, they are "true" because the God of Christianity authored them; for someone who does not accept the God of Christianity as the ultimate reality, however, they are simply human ideas that may be accepted, rejected or modified. Ditto for all religions that have a supernatural being (or beings) as their ultimate reality. If the "truths" of Christianity conflict with the "truths" of Islam, then to a Muslim they are by definition false because Allah is the Muslim's ultimate reality.

In Richard Dawkins’ scientific materialism, it is axiomatic that supernatural beings, including the God of Christianity, do not exist; this is an axiom of his paradigm – it is not open to debate. The material universe is Dawkins’ ultimate reality. He is indeed searching for truth within this paradigm. Anything outside this paradigm is, ipso facto, false. Christians may think Dawkins is ignoring evidence that actually is within the framework of his paradigm and that points toward the existence of God (such as the historical evidence for the Resurrection or the scientific evidence for Intelligent Design). Dawkins is not, however, ignoring this evidence – again, it is axiomatic to scientific materialism that supernatural beings do not exist. Ergo, to Dawkins the Resurrection cannot possibly have been a supernatural event, any more than a triangle can have four sides. To consider the possibility of supernatural beings, Dawkins would have to abandon his entire paradigm. Paradigms have been abandoned, of course, when the evidence that they were wrong became overwhelming, but those who hold to a dominant paradigm do not give up easily. This is the point of Thomas Kuhn's famous The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

If someone (like Dawkins) has no supernatural being as his ultimate reality, if the material universe is his ultimate reality, then "truth" is largely reduced to scientific truth – meaning that which can be learned through observation and experimentation. There is no such thing as moral truth because there is no higher standard by which to determine whether something is moral or immoral. Most people may agree rape or murder is "disruptive to the orderly functioning of society," or "unpleasant for the victim," or whatever - but on what basis can we say it is "immoral" if there is no higher standard?

Christians do not really know that their God is the ultimate reality. They believe it, both for what they regard as good and sufficient reasons and as a matter of faith. They rely, to some extent, on evidence that is within the framework of Dawkins’ materialistic paradigm but suggests to them that his paradigm is false (such as the historical evidence for the Resurrection, the evidence for Intelligent Design, and the evidence for seemingly miraculous events). Christians are as wedded to their paradigm as Dawkins is to his, as the Buddhists are to theirs, as the Muslims are to theirs, and so on and so forth. Only one paradigm can be ontologically true, meaning that only one paradigm can correspond to the way things really are. But when we are talking about ultimate reality, we won’t know this side of the grave which paradigm it is. A Christian’s Truth is not a Buddhist’s Truth or a Muslim’s Truth or Dawkins’ Truth – but only one can be correct.

Are most people searching for truth? In my experience, no. They are brought up in, or later land in, some paradigm that they find appealing and comfortable and scarcely give it another thought. This is as true of Christians as non-Christians. The true "seekers" are rare.
 
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th1b.taylor

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Bill,

You have added to what I wrote in your backquote. I wrote: 'You say, 'there is only One Truth'. Is the truth of the force of gravity part of that One Truth?' Then you or somebody else added, 'All is based on God'. I did not make this latter sentence. See #167. I hope the moderators note this addition to what I wrote that was wrongly attributed to me.

Oz
That will be my fault when I read what I wrote I edited and put it in the wrong place. Xin Loi!
 

Jethro Bodine

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Christians do not really know that their God is the ultimate reality. They believe it, both for what they regard as good and sufficient reasons and as a matter of faith. They rely, to some extent, on evidence that is within the framework of Dawkins’ materialistic paradigm but suggests to them that his paradigm is false (such as the historical evidence for the Resurrection, the evidence for Intelligent Design, and the evidence for seemingly miraculous events).
I don't want to take away from your excellent post. So don't think that me addressing the above is aimed at doing that at all. I just want to isolate this specific subject of faith, and knowing that God is real.

By definition, Biblical faith is not 'not knowing' that something is true, but choosing to believe that it is anyway. Hebrews 11:1 NASB explains how faith is the substance of knowing something is true, not simply blindly telling one self that it's true.

"1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1 NASB)

And so it is that true Biblical faith is not blind at all. It's not simply a decision to believe something 'on faith', as we like to say. The author explains how faith is the assurance that what one has hope in is actually true, and that it's a being convinced of things that one can not see. But I am afraid that too many Christians responded to the gospel message at the insistence of a preacher with the kind of 'faith' we as humans are most acquainted with--the 'faith' that is merely a decision to believe that which someone has told us is true. But as we can see from the verse I posted that is not what Biblical faith is at all. Biblical faith is knowing that something you can't see is true. This knowing comes from the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking the testimony of God himself about Jesus into our hearts.

It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.11And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
Until people 'hear' the testimony of the Holy Spirit their 'truth' will be as you suggest. It will be the reality of their personal paradigm of observable and measurable facts, and/or what they choose to believe. But God makes it so all people can eventually 'see' that he is real. My favorite illustration of a person with this kind of Biblical faith--the faith of 'knowing', not just 'deciding"--is, appropriate for this time of season, Tiny Tim in Scrooge, when he says the turkey that has arrived at the door came from Mr. Scrooge, and his mom says, 'whatever made you think such a thing!' (for we know that to be beyond all human reason). And Tiny Tim says, 'I just know'. That's what true faith is--knowing something is true that you can't see, not just deciding it is true. Until Dawkins opens up his paradigm to the other evidences of God in creation (that is, the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the world) his truth will indeed only be what he himself can know is true.
 
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The world can't search for the truth, because Jesus is the truth. Jesus said in John 14:6,
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus is the truth and the world doesn't know Him. "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not." John 1:10

Only the Holy Spirit can illuminate our hearts to the truth of Jesus Christ. The world is not searching for Jesus, they are searching for their form of truth which isn't truth at all.
 
R

Runner

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I don't want to take away from your excellent post. So don't think that me addressing the above is aimed at doing that at all. I just want to isolate this specific subject of faith, and knowing that God is real.
Yes, I pretty much agree with everything you say. I used to be an active participant on the forum of the International Association of Near Death Studies. I was a "non-experiencer" insofar as NDEs are concerned, although I have had other anomalous experiences. My main antagonist was a woman who had experienced two NDEs, many years apart. Interestingly, she was a rabid atheist. But anyway, her constant point was that I, as a non-experiencer, merely "believed" what I "believed," whereas she as an experiencer "knew" what she "knew." I pointed out to her that other NDE experiencers seemed to "know" things quite different from what she "knew" - including, in some cases, the "truth" of fundamentalist Christianity. Alas, this didn't faze her. Experiencers who "knew" Christianity was true were simply deluded, misinterpreting their own NDEs!

Christianity, of course, is premised on a revelation by God. God has revealed Himself to us, and thus we "know" His reality. The Holy Spirit has "illuminated our hearts to the truth of Jesus Christ," as the poster immediately above puts it. But we "know" in precisely the same way that my antagonist on the IANDS forum "knew" what she "knew." Believers of other religions "know" they have had revelations of their own, and thus they "know" something quite different from what Christians "know." At least they do believe in a higher reality, which distinguishes them from someone like Dawkins. You can have a conversation with a Muslim or Buddhist because at least he is operating within the paradigm of there being a higher level of reality.

Someone like Dawkins has more faith in a way than all of us put together. Considering that there is a large body of evidence of many different varieties at least pointing toward the existence of a spiritual realm (or whatever you want it call it), I find it bizarre that someone like Dawkins can insist it is axiomatic that a spiritual realm does not exist. To Dawkins the statement "the materialistic universe is all that exists" is precisely the same as the statement "a triangle has three sides." This is why atheists not only fight tooth-and-nail against all forms of religious belief but also against all phenomena that suggest the existence of a spiritual realm (such as NDEs). They cannot allow the slightest crack in the dike of materialism, or their entire paradigm collapses.
 

Wrg1405

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Truth is that which corresponds to reality. For Christians, the Bible is “true” because the God of Christianity, who Christians believe to be the ultimate reality, is the author. A Young Earth Creationist will accept the “truths” of the Bible even when they do not correspond to observable reality because God, as the ultimate reality, transcends observable reality. If observable reality conflicts with ultimate reality, by definition it must be observable reality that is false or at least badly misunderstood. If someone does not accept the God of Christianity as the ultimate reality, however, the Bible is just a book and anything in it that does not correspond to observable reality is simply false. This is likewise true of the moral teachings in the Bible. For the Christian, they are "true" because the God of Christianity authored them; for someone who does not accept the God of Christianity as the ultimate reality, however, they are simply human ideas that may be accepted, rejected or modified. Ditto for all religions that have a supernatural being (or beings) as their ultimate reality. If the "truths" of Christianity conflict with the "truths" of Islam, then to a Muslim they are by definition false because Allah is the Muslim's ultimate reality.

In Richard Dawkins’ scientific materialism, it is axiomatic that supernatural beings, including the God of Christianity, do not exist; this is an axiom of his paradigm – it is not open to debate. The material universe is Dawkins’ ultimate reality. He is indeed searching for truth within this paradigm. Anything outside this paradigm is, ipso facto, false. Christians may think Dawkins is ignoring evidence that actually is within the framework of his paradigm and that points toward the existence of God (such as the historical evidence for the Resurrection or the scientific evidence for Intelligent Design). Dawkins is not, however, ignoring this evidence – again, it is axiomatic to scientific materialism that supernatural beings do not exist. Ergo, to Dawkins the Resurrection cannot possibly have been a supernatural event, any more than a triangle can have four sides. To consider the possibility of supernatural beings, Dawkins would have to abandon his entire paradigm. Paradigms have been abandoned, of course, when the evidence that they were wrong became overwhelming, but those who hold to a dominant paradigm do not give up easily. This is the point of Thomas Kuhn's famous The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

If someone (like Dawkins) has no supernatural being as his ultimate reality, if the material universe is his ultimate reality, then "truth" is largely reduced to scientific truth – meaning that which can be learned through observation and experimentation. There is no such thing as moral truth because there is no higher standard by which to determine whether something is moral or immoral. Most people may agree rape or murder is "disruptive to the orderly functioning of society," or "unpleasant for the victim," or whatever - but on what basis can we say it is "immoral" if there is no higher standard?

Christians do not really know that their God is the ultimate reality. They believe it, both for what they regard as good and sufficient reasons and as a matter of faith. They rely, to some extent, on evidence that is within the framework of Dawkins’ materialistic paradigm but suggests to them that his paradigm is false (such as the historical evidence for the Resurrection, the evidence for Intelligent Design, and the evidence for seemingly miraculous events). Christians are as wedded to their paradigm as Dawkins is to his, as the Buddhists are to theirs, as the Muslims are to theirs, and so on and so forth. Only one paradigm can be ontologically true, meaning that only one paradigm can correspond to the way things really are. But when we are talking about ultimate reality, we won’t know this side of the grave which paradigm it is. A Christian’s Truth is not a Buddhist’s Truth or a Muslim’s Truth or Dawkins’ Truth – but only one can be correct.

Are most people searching for truth? In my experience, no. They are brought up in, or later land in, some paradigm that they find appealing and comfortable and scarcely give it another thought. This is as true of Christians as non-Christians. The true "seekers" are rare.
Excellent post my friend.

You talk about reality, it's something I wanted to bring up but didn't do so for fear of being slapped down because I knew I couldn't explain it. Thanks for answering a question I didn't ask.

You have explained better than I have one mans truth is another's lie in terms of the spiritual aspect of life. My previous posts of my thought maybe didn't explain it but that's what I wanted to bring out.

You mention paradigm, I think a lot of people don't question that.

I had to a while back. I decided to look at what I actually beleived as a result of what I have been told/taught. Is it true? It's a hard process to go through, it messes with your mind. Of course it will cause Ones paradigm is very difficult to shift when's it's challenged.

In a sense and not wishing to be irreverent, it's better the devil you know than the one you don't know.

The fear of change is very powerful. It brings a whole new reality to you.

Thanks for your post.

Bill
 
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wondering

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Truth is that which corresponds to reality. For Christians, the Bible is “true” because the God of Christianity, who Christians believe to be the ultimate reality, is the author. A Young Earth Creationist will accept the “truths” of the Bible even when they do not correspond to observable reality because God, as the ultimate reality, transcends observable reality. If observable reality conflicts with ultimate reality, by definition it must be observable reality that is false or at least badly misunderstood. If someone does not accept the God of Christianity as the ultimate reality, however, the Bible is just a book and anything in it that does not correspond to observable reality is simply false. This is likewise true of the moral teachings in the Bible. For the Christian, they are "true" because the God of Christianity authored them; for someone who does not accept the God of Christianity as the ultimate reality, however, they are simply human ideas that may be accepted, rejected or modified. Ditto for all religions that have a supernatural being (or beings) as their ultimate reality. If the "truths" of Christianity conflict with the "truths" of Islam, then to a Muslim they are by definition false because Allah is the Muslim's ultimate reality.

In Richard Dawkins’ scientific materialism, it is axiomatic that supernatural beings, including the God of Christianity, do not exist; this is an axiom of his paradigm – it is not open to debate. The material universe is Dawkins’ ultimate reality. He is indeed searching for truth within this paradigm. Anything outside this paradigm is, ipso facto, false. Christians may think Dawkins is ignoring evidence that actually is within the framework of his paradigm and that points toward the existence of God (such as the historical evidence for the Resurrection or the scientific evidence for Intelligent Design). Dawkins is not, however, ignoring this evidence – again, it is axiomatic to scientific materialism that supernatural beings do not exist. Ergo, to Dawkins the Resurrection cannot possibly have been a supernatural event, any more than a triangle can have four sides. To consider the possibility of supernatural beings, Dawkins would have to abandon his entire paradigm. Paradigms have been abandoned, of course, when the evidence that they were wrong became overwhelming, but those who hold to a dominant paradigm do not give up easily. This is the point of Thomas Kuhn's famous The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

If someone (like Dawkins) has no supernatural being as his ultimate reality, if the material universe is his ultimate reality, then "truth" is largely reduced to scientific truth – meaning that which can be learned through observation and experimentation. There is no such thing as moral truth because there is no higher standard by which to determine whether something is moral or immoral. Most people may agree rape or murder is "disruptive to the orderly functioning of society," or "unpleasant for the victim," or whatever - but on what basis can we say it is "immoral" if there is no higher standard?

Christians do not really know that their God is the ultimate reality. They believe it, both for what they regard as good and sufficient reasons and as a matter of faith. They rely, to some extent, on evidence that is within the framework of Dawkins’ materialistic paradigm but suggests to them that his paradigm is false (such as the historical evidence for the Resurrection, the evidence for Intelligent Design, and the evidence for seemingly miraculous events). Christians are as wedded to their paradigm as Dawkins is to his, as the Buddhists are to theirs, as the Muslims are to theirs, and so on and so forth. Only one paradigm can be ontologically true, meaning that only one paradigm can correspond to the way things really are. But when we are talking about ultimate reality, we won’t know this side of the grave which paradigm it is. A Christian’s Truth is not a Buddhist’s Truth or a Muslim’s Truth or Dawkins’ Truth – but only one can be correct.

Are most people searching for truth? In my experience, no. They are brought up in, or later land in, some paradigm that they find appealing and comfortable and scarcely give it another thought. This is as true of Christians as non-Christians. The true "seekers" are rare.
Hi Runner,
In your fourth paragraph you say that we cannot know which paradigm is correct while on this side of the grave. Are you saying that we cannot know which religion is true or that each person believes his own religion of choice is the true one?

I find Christianity to be different from every other religion.

Also, when speaking to an atheist it always seems to me that they are trying to convince themselves more than me.
 
R

Runner

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I had to a while back. I decided to look at what I actually beleived as a result of what I have been told/taught. Is it true? It's a hard process to go through, it messes with your mind. Of course it will cause Ones paradigm is very difficult to shift when's it's challenged.

The fear of change is very powerful. It brings a whole new reality to you.

Good for you, Bill! It is indeed a hard process. It does indeed mess with your mind. But when you emerge from the swamp, you have a set of beliefs in which you really believe, not merely pretend to believe, and that will sustain you in times of crisis. When I lost my first wife to breast cancer, we were delighted to find that the belief systems we had put in place long before her illness did indeed sustain us throughout the seven years she lived (and afterward, in my case). Everyone, from close family members to her doctors, was amazed at her ability to face this difficult situation head-on - and it was because she didn't have to frantically invent a belief system on the fly after learning she didn't have long to live (or discover to her dismay that a "pretend" belief system she had never really thought about collapsed like a house of cards in the face of death). I am secure in the handful of things that I strongly believe - some of which would be unaffected even if Christianity were conclusively proven to be a fraud - but I will continue to challenge my belief system until the day I depart this life. (For example, I am thoroughly convinced we live in a designed universe and of the survival of consciousness after bodily death, neither of which hinges on Christianity being true.)

In your fourth paragraph you say that we cannot know which paradigm is correct while on this side of the grave. Are you saying that we cannot know which religion is true or that each person believes his own religion of choice is the true one?

I find Christianity to be different from every other religion.

I'm saying both. The Great Divide, as I see it, is between those who believe in some higher reality and those who don't - materialistic atheists being "those who don't." (Atheists would quickly point out that some of them do believe in a higher reality, just not a God - which is why this sort of atheist tends to be more kindly disposed toward a religion like Buddhism than toward Christianity.) I have a very intelligent, educated friend who believes we are virtual creatures existing within a cosmic software program created by what he calls the Source. He thus is on the same side of the Great Divide as me, whereas Dawkins isn't. Can I actually say I know he is wrong? No, I don't think so. Can I actually say I know a Buddhist - or, for that matter, an atheist - is wrong? No, I don't think so.

When we say we "know" Christianity is true, we either mean we are "firmly convinced" it is or that we have had an experience of God that constitutes direct knowledge (the born-again experience, the baptism of the Spirit, a startling answer to prayer, or whatever). But this latter sense of "knowing" is exactly what my antagonist on the IANDS board was claiming: She knew the Ultimate Truth because she had experienced it during her NDE, whereas I had not. Never mind that I had had some fairly startling Christian experiences and some other quite weird anomalous experiences of my own. Never mind that other NDE experiencers did not believe the same things she did. Never mind any of it - because she knew and we didn't. As I kept pointing out, her "knowledge" was valid only for her; it carried no weight whatsoever for anyone else, and there was no way of determining whether it corresponded to reality.

I never say I "know" Christianity is true. On the basis of a great deal of life experience, observation and study, I am "firmly convinced" that Christianity is the best explanation of reality I am going to find. My "life experience" includes, as I have suggested, some anomalous experiences that I would consider "direct knowledge" of the spiritual realm as well as some Christian experiences that I would consider "direct knowledge" of God. I also rely to a considerable degree on intuition, which the sages of all religions have taught is the most reliable way to grasp the divine (in a Christian context, intuition might be viewed as the "still small voice" of the Spirit). With all of this, however, I do not "know" Christianity is true in the same way I know my Ford is sitting in my garage. I cannot demonstrate to you or even to myself that my claims about Christianity correspond to reality in the same way I can demonstrate my claim about my Ford corresponds to reality. I recognize there is at least some possibility Christianity is not true at all, or not true in the way I now understand it. I can live with this element of ambiguity and uncertainty.

I agree Christianity is different from every other religion in the sense of God reaching down to humans as opposed to humans trying to reach up to God. It is, we believe, a revelation by God to us. It is also different from every other religion in recognizing that we are fallen creatures living in a fallen creation. This is, to me, one of the most convincing things about Christianity - it is counterintuitive (not what we would expect if humans were inventing a self-congratulatory religion) and does the best job of any religion I have found in explaining how the world in which I live actually works (i.e., not very well, because we are fallen creatures in a fallen creation). Nevertheless, is it possible it is false, in whole or in part? Certainly. Is it possible I am misunderstanding or misinterpreting my own experiences? Of course. Do I know it is true in the same way I know my Ford is in my garage? No, I don't. Thus, I limit my claim to being "firmly convinced" rather than "knowing." If someone here insists he "knows" - OK, fine, but bear in mind you're going to have a difficult time engaging in a rational discussion with someone else who insists he "knows" something entirely different from you.
 
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