Sunday, February 28, 2010

Facebook and Me

My Facebook account has all but eaten my blog. Usually FB is nothing more than a place to reconnect or (more frequently for me) a place to waste time. But last week, it stimulated some heavy thinking! I fell into a conversation thread with a couple of dudes that considered religion to be a "mental virus." He wrote:

"all theistic religions are mind-control cults. People, think for yourselves! All the merited aspects of religions follow from common sense and are very public domain--religion didn't invent them and religion can't take credit for them. Only the negatives, i.e., the manipulation, the mind-control, the subjugation, the vilification of reason, science and free-thought, the greed and the chauvinism are proprietary to each individual cult according to their method..."

Quite a "take" on all things religious. What pulled me into the conversation was this comment: "The attempt to connect (dogma) to mythological figures and parables (such as Jesus, Moses, Mohammad, and the stories of their adventures, et al) is a way to alert the primitive mind to a crude distortion of spirituality..."

Did you just call Jesus, Moses and Mohammad mythological figures? WHAT!?

As the conversation progressed, the agnostic said there was not sufficient evidence to support the existence of God and therefore he does not bother his brain to ponder that which is unknowable. Then he gave me the opportunity to support my view - that there IS sufficient evidence in support of the existence of a Creator-God. The conversation was wild from there, and in the end - as you can imagine - he found my arguments weak. And they probably were, having never given a defense of my faith to a hostile agnostic before.

But it begs the question: if YOU were asked "Why do you believe that there is a God, what would you say?" Here is what I said:

Scott, I am by no means practiced at conversations like this. I spend my time raising our four boys and assisting my husband in running a medical practice. I am not a philosopher, theologian, or debater. I consider myself a thinking person who at one point during my youth put my “knowing hope” in a God I cannot see and have continued since that point to pursue the God of the Hebrews and the Gentiles. I don’t think I have it all figured out, and acknowledge that there are areas unknown to me in which I am either mistaken or misguided. On that last point, who of us could honestly assert anything different?

First off, I do not put my faith in ‘religion.’ As Robert (another participant in our 'friendly' debate) said, religion has a lot to answer for over the years and I agree wholeheartedly. It would be foolish, however, to blame human mistakes (lumping here a wide spectrum of historical failings and atrocities) on the Creator. A simple analogy to make my point: We cannot blame the creator of baseball bats for some abusive father beating his kid with one, can we? It is that father who has committed the atrocity and it is the father who must answer for the crime.

Point B: I would argue that there IS overwhelming evidence of a Creator-God. 
1. The intricate order found in animal, mineral and vegetable points to that Creator (you may argue a theory void of God, inserting the passage of millions of years as explanation for the order we see today. Such Darwinian thought is not necessarily false but without the participation of a Creator this theory is simply drunk on the passage of time: the evidence for something of that scale defying the laws of thermodynamics for such a prolonged period of time defies logic.
2. There is a consistent existence and perpetuation of a belief in a higher power throughout human history, in nearly all societies whether linked or isolated from other tribes or nations. You consider it as merely a psychological instrument to for humans to cope with life and the unexplained. But the alternate view I put forward here is that this Creator that I see evidence for everywhere I look has put into His creation a deep inner knowledge of His existence. I am not appealing to tradition here, trying to assert that "since X has always been true, it must be true." I am suggesting that perhaps the reason there is such an historical presence of a 'higher power' in the psyche of humans is because there is.
And if point 1 and point 2 are true, He is a Creator that not just created us but He also desires - for some inexplicable reason - to be known by his creation. I assert here that if the Creator of the Universe desires to be known, then we would be wise to know Him.
3. This one is not scientifically or historically provable but it is something that cannot be ignored: humans have a soul. You will no doubt argue this word or point in some way, shape, or form, but the undeniable truth is that there is something in us that connects our mind, body and spirit together. There is no reason for a soul other than to assist in following (or rejecting) a moral code. I assert that this moral code is a product of our Creator not a product of evolution (over the course of history I would not dare claim that we have evolved much on this front – humans have struggled with incomprehensible evil in every era).
Point C: (Dare I tackle this one here?) the historical accuracy and reliability of both the Old and New Testaments is a fascinating study. Of course none of this is interesting if you believe Jesus to be a lunatic or a liar, but supposing there is room for the possibility that he is indeed Lord, you might be interested in the manuscript evidence of the New Testament. You can find this widely accepted evidence in a myriad of places. Here is one that details what I am talking about.

Point D: Viewing the Bible for its historical value, you will find recorded there (and substantiated in other historical texts) a group of 11 men (excluding Judas Iscariot) who were lousy followers of Jesus. They were always saying things that Jesus found appalling, had a faith in Jesus’ Lordship that was weak and pathetic. They even argued against Jesus when He said it was time for him to be crucified. These disciples completely abandoned Jesus at his greatest time of need. But then something really interesting happened to all of those yellowbellies and as a result 10 (perhaps all) of them, one by one, was killed for their unwillingness to recant their claims about Jesus. It is my conclusion drawn from this evidence that something life-changing happened. I believe they witnessed the resurrection of Jesus. And for refusing to deny their first-hand testimony, every one of them, save one, was violently killed (torn in half, crucified upside down, etc, etc.). This evidence goes far beyond the existence of a Creator and moves into the finer points of my faith and the love story written in the Bible about the God of the Bible.

This was a very fun exercise for me and I thank you for the opportunity to write. I did not write this to convince or argue. I wrote this knowing that when you and I add up 2 + 2, we come up with different answers… and we both think the other person’s answer is 5.


alainaw30 said...

Well thought and well said. It's a good reminder that we should all be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have. I've found that FB has allowed me to share my faith in more ways than I ever would have guessed. Bless you and your family for keeping the faith.


Ginger@chirgies said...

Nice Jenne! It is sooo good for us to practice explainging the "why" we believe what we do with out just saying "cause the Bible says so." It's HARD!
I would say that for me personally after studying biology and A&P, the micro of our bodies and DNA, etc, etc, there is so much that screams "order" - it canNOT be random.
For our Easter program the Kinders (Brett) are singing the hymn 'I Serve a Risen Savior' and one of the lines is "I know that He is risen, whatever men may say." It was a really good opportunity to talk about this exact thing with Brett - no one can argue with your personal experience, can they?

ps - Have you watched the debates of Dinesh D'souza with atheist Hitchens? - they're quite good.

pps - sorry for the book. :)

Diane said...

Well done Jenne! I have a friend who is agnostic. I try, oh boy do I try to convice her to no avail. Now I just pray for her.