How Many Impossible Things Do You Need to Believe?

How many impossible things do you need to believe to not believe in God?

There is a decision to make.

Whether to believe in the existence of a single intelligent creator responsible for the complexity of the universe and life on earth – or to believe that an unimaginable number of spontaneous events somehow happened in order to bring about the same result, out of nothing.

The main difference as I see it, is that one scenario raises the possibility of us being accountable to a Creator God, and that can be a scary prospect for some people.

Over the past few days I’ve had a small discussion with a few unbelievers on a secular news site.

One of the responders asked a version of that old, naïve question:

…how do you explain your ‘single intelligent creator’, does he just pop into existence from, er, nothing?

Basically, if the universe and life within it required a creator, who created that creator?

To some that question must seem the pinnacle of sophistication – the argument to end all arguments, and yet there is a very clear and obvious answer that does not favour the doubter’s assumption.

The Bible describes God as being eternal with no beginning or end.

But Science recognises that the universe DID have a beginning.

Therefore, unlike the universe (according to the materialist viewpoint), God did not need to “just pop into existence from nothing”.

As for the question of how many impossible things need to be accepted in order to disbelieve in a Creator God, the following response in the same discussion shows how willing people can be to practice all manner of irrational, intellectual gymnastics to close their eyes and minds to God.

That ‘unimaginable’ number of spontaneous events took place over an equally unimaginable expanse of space and time, and if the many-worlds interpretation is correct, over an almost infinitely large number of universes. From another perspective, given these conditions, that series of spontaneous events had to occur somewhere, at some time. It just happens that here and now is where they occurred.

Just look at the many assumptions and speculations required to fuel that argument.

1) The assumption that given enough time, anything can happen no matter how improbable or impossible.
(Excepting the existence of a Creator to whom His creation might be accountable, of course)

2) If the “many-worlds interpretation is correct.
(One might as well say “if the easter bunny was real, chocolate eggs would magically appear at easter. Again – an avoidance of pondering whether the Creator God “interpretation” could be correct.)

3) An almost infinitely large number of universes?
(So now we have the existence of an infinite number of universes that spontaneously appeared, not just one).

4) Given all of those imagined conditions then this very real universe had to appear out of nothing.
(Do I need to comment further on that?)

So I’ll return to my original question…

How many impossible things does someone need to believe to not believe in God?

“Whatever works for you…”

When sharing our faith in Jesus, Gloria and I find so many people saying they are glad we have a faith that works for us.
They may even express a degree of regret that they themselves have no such faith sustaining them, but rarely is that regret sufficient to move them to consider their own need to seek God.

“Whatever works for you” is a common response.

They see that for us Jesus “works”, but for others it may be Buddha, or Allah, or the millions of Hindu gods – it doesn’t matter as long as it works for them.
Clearly, they give no consideration for the value of TRUTH.
Truth has lost its – well, its TRUTH.

Relativism rules, where it is possible for everyone to hold to their own particular “truths” no matter how contradictory they all may be; just as long as no one tries to insist that “their truth” is THE truth.

God isn’t so flexible in His views.

He values truth enough to identify Himself with it.
Jesus said “I am the way, THE TRUTH and the life” – the ONLY means of accessing the Father.

Paul wrote of the importance of truth, that receiving a love of the truth is essential for salvation and writes about

“those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

Truth matters. It is worthless believing in something that isn’t true, no matter how much “comfort” it may seem to give.

Psalm 95

I’ve been listening to the Psalms, in Bible readings by David Suchet, and also in music, arranged and performed by Australian group, Sons of Korah.

I’ve posted a few Sons of Korah performances recently. Here’s another.

From the NIV.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.

In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.

The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice:

“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,

When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.

For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’

So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”

Overemphasis: Love

Can there be an overemphasis of “love”?

I suppose that depends on what the emphasis may be and what defines our understanding and application of love?

Is the biblical definition of love the same as our own understanding of what love is? How much has that understanding been coloured by popular culture and its often romanticised ideas?

Do we believe that all we need is love?
Or should we be more informed by the Bible than by The Beatles?

Have our expectations of love become sentimentalised? And to what extent might that have shaped our expectations of God’s love?

Only a week or two ago I saw letters to the editor in national news papers, in which a significant ignorance of God was demonstrated.  The writers had the all too common understanding that the message of Jesus was all about love and nothing but love, and therefore He was no longer concerned with sin and unrighteousness, that His love makes Him blind to man’s moral short-comings.

I’d suggest that any idea about God’s love somehow nullifying everything else about Him is an idea that overemphasises love.

God’s ultimate act of love – the extraordinarily costly gift of His Son, should show us how seriously God considers mankind’s’ sin. The price for forgiveness and cleansing from sin was not cheap.

Sin is not something that can be brushed aside in the name of some kind of lovey-dovey romanticized sentimentality.

God’s love bled.

Painfully.

 

sacrifice

 

Heavens to Betsy

I loved this film.

I found it to be in the tradition of the classic James Stewart film It’s A Wonderful Life, where the lead character gets to see how things would have turned out under different circumstances.

In the Stewart film, a man is shown how different the world would have been if he had never lived. In Heavens to Betsy, an aspiring children’s book author complains to God that He never answers her prayers.

She then finds herself in an alternate reality in which her every prayer has been answered, with results she didn’t expect.

Despite feeling there’s a little overacting at the beginning of the film, it soon settles down into a very funny and thought provoking story.

In searching for this trailer I found there is a sequel.
That’s a film I REALLY want to see.

 

“Judeo Christian” Weeds and Thorns

How many of our assumptions are really based on truth? And how many are based on what we’ve been led to believe or what we prefer to believe?

How does this affect our views of the “normal Christian life’ and how we try to live one?

Which has most influence over our understanding? The Bible or our local culture – particularly our western “Judeo-Christian” culture.

I’ve asked previously, to what extent are many of the things we attribute to God’s blessings in reality more related to the thorns and weeds that choke God’s word and make us unfruitful? [see parable of the sower]

Has the “Judeo-Christian” influenced western world really been blessed with prosperity and freedom because of that “Judeo-Christian” foundation as I’ve seen claimed recently?

Or again, have we been seduced by those choking thorns and weeds and have we created a mythical foundation to justify and legitimise them in our lives?

Does the term “Judeo-Christian” even have any valid meaning if it’s reflecting something other than an accurate, bible based faith in Jesus?

Just what is that alleged “Judeo-Christian” foundation based upon anyway?

Is it genuinely based entirely on biblical revelation? Or does it have more to do with the highly flawed doctrines and politics emerging from Christendom?

I can’t help comparing my personal experience and observations of Christian life in the “Judeo-Christian” west with those of believers I read about in accounts from Christian-minority nations; from Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist majority countries. Or those under atheistic communist regimes.

Which background seems most conducive to maintaining an active faith in Jesus?

Initial impressions, along with a kind of romanticising of the persecuted Christian would seem to indicate a more thriving faith when under pressure. However, returning to Jesus’s parable about the sower, that is not necessarily the case. Jesus also refers to seed falling in stony ground, representing those “who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”

So persecution doesn’t always lead to stronger commitment – just as exposure to  a “western” lifestyle doesn’t presuppose someone to be seduced by materialism; however awareness of personal circumstances and recognising what is most likely to present personal challenges, according to our own circumstances is essential.

Therefore as a western based believer I need to be extra conscious of the potential pitfalls presented by the society in which I live, and make sure I don’t try to justify the very real seductive power of those pitfalls by attributing their “benefits” to God.