Tuesday, 7 July 2009


I'm trying to approach my doubts and explorations in a logical / scientific way... In science, if you have 2 opposing hyphotheses, then you could do some experiments where you test which one holds true in each situation. Imagine 2 hypotheses: "Salt will disolve in water", "Salt will not disolve in water". You could do some experiments with salt and water and see which was true. (OK, so actually neither is probably completely true, but salt does generally disolve in water, until it gets saturated... I think!).

Is it possible to do the same with "God exists" and "God does not exist"? I'm not sure it is, because what the "results" would be in each situation is not clear... e.g. Would you say "If God exists then there should be no suffering"? I wouldn't, but some could use this as evidence to prove / disprove God's existence... All very confusing.

I'm reading "The God Delusion" (Richard Dawkins) at the moment, and he acknowledges that we can't be completely sure of whether God exists or not, but that he believes the weight of probability tilts very much towards God's non-existence. I'm not sure I am clear enough on what the results of God existing would look like to reach this point... so I guess I'm an agnostic for the time being.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Darwin vs God

I snuck in to a showing of "Did Darwin kill God?" last night at the University of Nottingham, courtesy of Theosoc. It was attended by Conor Cunningham, the presenter and writer of the BBC show.

It was very interesting and the documentary was well put together. The essence of it was that the Darwin vs God debate is a false one, that has only been perpetuated by extremists from both "sides". He presents a fairly coherent view of how orthodox (not to be confused with Eastern Orthodox) Christianity has never been committed to 6-day creationism. Equally, he shows that Darwin himself wasn't and mainstream science isn't close to ultra-darwinism.

The Q&A session went somewhat over my head because of a lot of jargon (theodocy, aristotlian oojimaflips, philoan thingies, ontological vs methodological, subjectivity ... and plenty of others that I didn't even understand enough to remember!). But it was still useful and definitely interesting to be around people who are engaging with debates on this issue.

I could say a lot more on it, but I don't really have time. One question I would have asked if I'd had the guts would have been: "How do you see God interacting with individuals now?".

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Questions about "Deconstructing criticism | williamlobdell.com"

My questions for William Lobdell and his article "Deconstructing criticism"...

I like his site and this article. Thinking of buying his book too. As you guys know, I’m currently in the process of seriously re-evaluating my beliefs and attempting to answer a LOAD of questions… So I may be heading in his direction. However I don’t quite follow some of what he says there…

“…Christian institutions should behave in a manner morally superior than their secular counterparts.”

Why would this necessarily be the case? One of the questions I asked above was about why it didn’t impact my life “enough”, so I kind of get this. But where does the Bible say that churches WILL be morally superior? Maybe it indicates or says they SHOULD be… but maybe that’s just not the case. Maybe the “success” of Christianity is not measurable by the actions of it’s followers? I don’t know what it is measurable by if not though!

“More likely, if I’m wrong and there is a loving God, I imagine he would look at me and said, 'Son, I know how hard you struggled to believe. I’m very proud of your effort. I love you. Let’s spend eternity together.' What would you do as a loving father?”
Not sure what I think about this. I kind of feel that if God is God and he sets the rules then they’re absolute… follow me & go to heaven - don’t follow me and don’t go to heaven. Is there a good reason to believe in a soft God that’ll go back on his word?

I’m interested in his thoughts and experiences, but it seems quite “me” centred - questioning the experiential truth of it (as if it should noticeably work out for him) rather than questioning the factual truth of it (Did it happen? Does he exist?). If it’s true, then any of the questions you raise above can be answered pretty much by saying “God is God, He makes the rules”.

However, the big question on my mind, and no doubt it has been on his, is: how do you know what is true?


As I was pondering these things last night I realised another reason why the above didn't sit right with me. On the one hand he appears to be saying "God can't exist, because the people who try to follow him are not changed enough by him" and on the other hand saying "If God exists, I want him to reward me for my efforts despite not being changed"... don't those 2 kind of contradict each other? It's almost like one rule for himself (Forgive me, I tried hard!) and one for the church (Unforgivable - they're trying but not changing!).

The tenable positions related to this, given that the church isn't living up to expectations, are as follows (in my view):

  • Church isn't good enough, I'm not good enough, but if God exists he should forgive us all
  • Church isn't good enough, I'm not good enough and if God exists he should punish us all
You can't go for a middle ground can you?

Questions about "Turning Agnostic"

(In response to: Turning Agnostic)
What is the difference between tolerating and accepting?
I can see how people can tolerate all religions by not saying that any one of them is completely true to the exclusion of all the others
I can't quite see how you can accept all religions if you mean saying they are ALL true... Doesn't that provide a major contradiction?
I guess this is a pretty common question and people say stuff like "you make your own truth" or "what's true for you isn't true for me"... but that sounds like nonsense to me.

All the questions in the world

I recently was asked to write down a list of all the questions that were going round in my head. Here's what I came up with in the first 20 mins...

Is there a God?
Is it possible to know if there's a God? How sure can you be?
How can you know if there's a God?
How come some very clever atheists don't believe in God?
How come some very clever Christians believe in God?

Does it even matter?
What could life be about if it's not about pursuing God?
Does there have to be a purpose?

Is my belief in right & wrong just a product of my upbringing?
If it is, does that mean it's untrue?
Can I even ask that question without believing in right & wrong?

Is it really the case that Jesus can only be mad, bad or God?

Is it possible to know anything for sure?
How much is enough?
Even if I'm sure, is that enough?
What about people that disagree?

Is it possible to know anything for sure?
If not, is everything based on emotion really rather than thought?
If not, is everything based on faith... and how can I be sure that faith isn't misplaced?

If Christianity is true, why:
- didn't I see my life changing more?
- don't I see more supernatural stuff?

Is believing in God just a convenient way of reassuring yourself that something with more control than you is looking out for you?
Can church be good whilst not being true?
Can it be bad whilst being true?
Is worship enjoyable because it's psychologically good to take the focus off yourself sometimes?
Even if that's true, does it diminish it?

Isn't it a bit convenient that to believe in God you have to have faith? What else is that really true about? Love?

Why could prayer be more than just "believing in the positive and it will come to you"?
What if prayer is actually a way of doing that?
What if they're both ways to help you notice the positives when you get what you want and ignore the negatives when you don't get what you want?
Why would God care what we want?
Why would we be able to change his mind on stuff?
If so, do we somehow control him?
If not, does he control us?
Is prayer a way of trying to get what we want? Like a child nags it's parent (or Lizzy nags her husband)?

Is my process and emotional or intellectual one?
If I understand and know enough - would I believe more?

Are my doubts centred truly around God's existence or more my own self-belief in being able to "do it"?
What if I choose to be a crap Christian and not try hard at anything, but just believe something?
Is that even possible?
Would that really be belief or just fire insurance?
Am I just lazy?

Is it possible to answer these questions?

What if life is just about asking lots of questions and never knowing the answers?
What if that's what the rest of my life will be?
Is that sustainable?
Should Christians be open to alternative views? How open?
Is learning stock answers to questions enough?
Should they let it challenge them to the core or protect themselves with something?

It seems convenient to outsource your conscience.

I think I have too many questions in proportion to answers!

Monday, 19 January 2009


I originally posted this elsewhere where the debate had descended into a philosophical debate about whether we can even know truth or prove our own existence!

This is exactly where I was about 3 or 4 months ago. How do I know I'm able to come to a true conclusion? What is truth anyway? How can I trust myself, let alone other people? What if I'm mad?

In the end I decided I had to take a pragmatic approach and assume that truth exists (in some form) and it is possible for me to know it (it some way). If I don't assume those things, then everything just stops. That sounds like a weak argument - I believe X because otherwise my life would be pointless. But imagine... if I ask if truth exists, I am, by asking the question, assuming that truth does exist - by expecting an answer to the question. The same is true with trusting my own thought processes - unless I assume I can trust them (to some extent) then it is pointless even wondering if I can trust myself, because by doing so, I assume I can!

Anyway, assuming those 2 things has been quite helpful for me as I re-explore my Christian roots and wonder what substance the faith I had was based on.

I've found a few things helpful over the last few months...
  • Speaking to an atheist friend who said that by exploring faith, I was being more open-minded than he was. I think I'd always assumed that atheists were the open-minded ones and us Christians were the dumb ones who'd never seriously considered the alternatives. I think the same is true on both sides - perhaps we are scared of the implications of finding out what we based our life on was untrue. I still believe atheism (or antitheism in its extreme) is as much a position of faith as Christianity...
  • Reading "Mere Christianity" by C S Lewis. He argues the existence of God from a very different perspective - reflecting on what we all experience internally that might point in that direction. I find arguments about "Doesn't the world just work so well?" and "The chance of life existing are so small, it must be God" etc pretty weak as, if we didn't exist & there wasn't order, then we wouldn't be here to observe them! However, reflecting on the processes we go through when making decisions (What makes us think we should do the "right" thing? Why do we believe there is a "right" and "wrong"? "Good" and "bad"? "Better" and "worse"?) can be quite useful because there are hints at something above & beyond our everyday, physical existence in there.
  • Reading "The Case for Christ" by L Strobel. Only just started this, but I think there's a challenge here to argumentative atheists (and argumentative Christians like me!) to engage with something like this that is not a philosophical nor theological book, but rather a historical investigation. It's easy to argue God doesn't exist by staying at a distance and protecting yourself using big arguments (atheists and Christians and others alike), but when it comes down to specific, historical points, this can present a challenge. If Jesus existed, and if he said what the Bible says he said, and if he did the things it says he did including coming back to life, then doesn't this suggest there might be a God? I'm not assuming the conclusion to these questions as I look, I just think it's a more practical, tangible way of engaging with the argument.
  • Chatting to friends & family about it. It's amazing what you find out about people when you make it clear you're not sure what you believe. I think they feel free to express what it is they believe and also not feel threatened that you will argue with them.[/list]
I'm trying to be open-minded in the process. I'm not a committed atheist, agnostic or Christian (or anything else) at the moment... I'm exploring. I need to pick up some atheist & other religion books too, but at the moment, I'm struggling to find time to finish the 2 that I have started. I believe that life is a journey of discovery and you need to keep gathering new information and not just processing it to make it fit to your beliefs, but let it influence them and challenge them... I hope we can all do that!

Sunday, 11 January 2009


It's weird out in the wilderness.
Being out here without knowing who to trust.
Reading things by different people, but seeing that their agenda could be
twisted or wrong.

Without knowing what you can hope in.

Do I want my hope back?
Do I want to hope in the same things?
How do I know?