Questions

Hi, I’m new here but… I have a few questions that you might be able to help me with…
I was raised Christian and was always taught to believe in God, but my parents never went to church. Still, I have always had faith that God existed. Lately I have found myself doubting the existance of God. I really don’t want to doubt it - I try to believe but these little doubts keep getting in the way.
Some main questions I have are:

  1. How did God get there in the first place? When I would ask my Dad he would always tell me “God was always there.” I don’t believe that is possible. Everything must have a beginning and come from somewhere, you have to start somehow. What I want to know is where did he come from?
  2. Why won’t God give me a sign that he exists when I ask him? If he exists and wants people to know and believe it, then why doesn’t he make it more obvious? It’s like some sort of secret. Why wouldn’t we have more proof?
  3. This isn’t really a question, but the whole concept of God just seems so difficult to accept. The ideas and things from the Bible are so radical you have to be at least a little skeptical. The more I think about it, the more it seems like God is just something that people made up because they were scared. They didn’t want to accept that there is nothing after death, so they created this fantasy to comfort them. They just couldn’t bring themselves to accept the horrifying truth. I find myself thinking that this is the reason I believe in God.

I know that I’m young and don’t understand many things yet, but this doesn’t stop me from having questions. Please believe me when I say that I am NOT trying to start an argument. I just feel very alone right now, and I would greatly appreciate it if anyone could help me find an answer to these concerns. I would like to believe in God again, I really would. But I feel that I can’t with these questions getting in the way.
Thank you very much -
Kay.

Have you ever been stuck talking to a child that asks “Why” everytime you explain something? There’s no end, is there? So it is with the existence of stuff. If you did get an explanation of where God came from, it would involve some other thing existing before Him, and you’d just find yourself asking where that came from. You’ll either have to accept that there’s an infinite number of things, stretching back forever (which many philosophers consider impossible), or that there was a first thing where it all started. Christians believe that first thing is God.

That’s a good question, and there have been a lot of answers through history. Here are a couple:

1)If God proved his existence to you, it would destroy your free will, and change your personality in a way God doesn’t want.

  1. God is impossible to fully comprehend. Therefore, any ‘sign’ would only be a portion of Him, not complete understanding. Therefore, you would always have the potential of coming up with some other explanation. Short of a cartoon-like display of magical powers, can you think of anything God could do that you wouldn’t find yourself questioning or doubting, say, 15 years from now?

Maybe that is the reason you believe in God. Other people belive for other reasons though. Regardless of where religion in general came from back in the days of yore, look around at all the religious people you know, and perhaps religious people from history (say, Martin Luther King or Isaac Newton) and ask yourself if the reason for their beliefs could really be that simple. My take on it is that extremely wise and intelligent-seeming people have believed in God over the years, and passing it all off as ‘wishful thinking’ sells them short. That’s not to say you should believe in God just because some famous guy did, but it does mean the notion of God should be investigated a little closer, yes?
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BTW, this board is extremely hostile to traditional religious beliefs. If you want my email address, let me know.

Hi Uccisore,

Hostile? Hmmm, I believe most people here are critical of the way the church has handled things and tend to reel at the fundamentalistic way of turning intuitive, poetic and figurative speech into hard fact. That is the manner in which most modern people try to cope with the infatuation with reason as the supposed only reliable measure of truth - and the religious have tended to fall into the trap of uncritically adopting this assumption without accepting that most of the texts of scripture are poetry, songs, mythology, interpretations of history, proclamations, fugurative speech, metaphorical lessons or satirical fables.

My special criticism is that conservative religious groups slander their own religious foundation by stating that scripture must be taken literally. This stance cannot stand the test of reason and scripture comes under unnecessary criticism because of it. I trust the words of wisdom I find in scripture, but I recognise the spirit in which it was written. Therefore I can’t see any hostility in that.

Shalom
Bob

Hi Kay,

What is happening to you is that you have discovered the insecurity of your parents and naturally need to find a solid basis for your own faith. The first thing is that ‘God’ is no vending machine where you put a prayer in the slot and out comes an answer.

If you read the Bible from the beginning, recognising the fact that Genesis is compiled of legendary stories about the beginning of life, about the beginning of faith, about the encounter with the great Mystery we call ‘God’, how the people of Israel came into being, what the covenant is, how they received the book of the covenant and what this instruction tells us.

The second lesson is to take scripture seriously, by accepting the nature of the texts, not assuming that everything is rational thought. Much of it could be compared to a love letter - which generally becomes quite ridiculous if it is taken literally. But if you can open your soul and understand intuitively what is meant, you can begin to receive an insight of what the ancients have understood and experienced. This is the foundation for your own spiritual learning.

As well as taking the text seriously, you need to hold the ancient texts in reverence, stepping carefully over the statements that reveal the special circumstances of that age, following the development towards the Prophets and the Mystics to Jesus. This is where Jesus himself becomes a timeless figure and the symbol of a change of heart. Paul teaches the meaning of this new Mythos as a new theology of liberation and deliverence, much as Abraham, Moses and Elijah stand for different era’s of understanding.

Thirdly, you need to find your own peace, balance and right to be here. You are not just an accident of nature, but we are all spiritually receptive if we can avoid the bright lights, the loudness of our world and the brutality of our fellow man. If we can open ourselves to the underlying grace of existence, to the spirit of love and the principle of mercy, we become receptive for the message that is waiting for us and assurance or faith.

Shalom
Bob

Then I guess I stand corrected.
Or maybe I just wasn’t talking about you- though I certainly don’t see you as an exception.

Hi, Kay.

I’m just a rank amateur philosopher myself but I once found myself where you are now. I wondered, “Does God Exist?” Then, in a bookstore one day I found a book called - get ready for this - “Does God Exist?” Needless to say I bought it and it sits on my shelf still. (I bought it ten years ago). I might recommend it as a fine starting point. (Prometheus Books, 1993). It’s actually the transcript of a debate between a theist and an atheist and several more of each also contribute to the book. The book doesn’t take sides but gives fair arguments from both corners. It’s a great primer on this humungous question.

And if you don‘t read that, read something. Uccisore is right. Take a look at the people throughout history. Deciding whether or not one believes in God may be the most important decision a person can make in his or her lifetime. Unfortunately, people on both sides of the fence often make the decision quickly or unthinkingly. Or even not at all (which I guess is a decision of a sort). It deserves the kind of attention you seem sincerely to want to give it. There are centuries of serious thought on the matter. Why not take advantage of it? Listen to what the philosophers through the ages have said. And the scientists and the world’s great teachers and thinkers and the kings and the warriors and the poets.

As for me, somewhere between buying that book ten years ago and now, I found my answer.

Well put and sensible, jerry. For me the books were “Can we be Good without God” and “The Analytic Theist”. Before those, I didn’t even realize the calibre of discussion that existed, much less have the mental equipment to weigh in on it.

Thank you all so much for helping me out… just reading your posts has helped me a lot. And I will definitely look into those books.

  • Kay

If there is a god/creator worth any of your love, it will understand your doubts, as it created the mind with which you question. So don’t beat yourself up about it.

One of the things I love most about life in this universe is the mystery.

I can relate to how you feel 'cause I was there not too long ago. My parents /did/ go to church, though, I was brought up in church because my dad was a pastor.

Here’s some Christian sites to go along w/ those books:
christian-thinktank.com
thinedge.org

Want proof? Take a biology class. No way in Hell we are an accident. The proof is in front of your nose!

Ask God to reveal himself and wait and see what happens. You have to be patient though because God’s time is not our time.