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Subject: Do you have to give yourself over to God to feel him/her/it? rss

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Jason Hinchliffe
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A common phrase I hear from those I debate religion with, is that you have to give yourself over to God/Jesus/Allah/FSM in order to experience their power. It's often used as a justification for why an atheist seems oblivious to the lord's almighty power - They've chosen to blind themselves to it, and hence no conversation can be had.

It tends to go something like this:

Atheist: Science I can see, and touch, and test and prove. Can you not accept that as a better base for guiding your life than blind faith?

Theist: My faith isn't Blind. I know God exists. I feel him all around me.

Atheist: Show me then. If he's all around give me an example.

Theist: I can't. If you don't accept Jesus as your personal saviour, you simply can't understand it. Let God into your life and he'll reveal himself to you.


Do the believers around here feel that this is accurate? Or is it a conversational scapegoat for believers when they get a bit cornered on things like the demand for physical evidence?



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There's no such thing as "God", it's a human-defined delusion.
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Drew1365 wrote:
clockwerk76 wrote:
A common phrase I hear from those I debate religion with, is that you have to give yourself over to God/Jesus/Allah/FSM in order to experience their power. It's often used as a justification for why an atheist seems oblivious to the lord's almighty power - They've chosen to blind themselves to it, and hence no conversation can be had.

It tends to go something like this:

Atheist: Science I can see, and touch, and test and prove. Can you not accept that as a better base for guiding your life than blind faith?

Theist: My faith isn't Blind. I know God exists. I feel him all around me.

Atheist: Show me then. If he's all around give me an example.

Theist: I can't. If you don't accept Jesus as your personal saviour, you simply can't understand it. Let God into your life and he'll reveal himself to you.


Do the believers around here feel that this is accurate? Or is it a conversational scapegoat for believers when they get a bit cornered on things like the demand for physical evidence?


I'm not sure I accept your premise. It's equal parts straw man and loaded question.

What do you really want to know? How to "feel" God?
That will be a yea then.
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clockwerk76 wrote:
A common phrase I hear from those I debate religion with, is that you have to give yourself over to God/Jesus/Allah/FSM in order to experience their power. It's often used as a justification for why an atheist seems oblivious to the lord's almighty power - They've chosen to blind themselves to it, and hence no conversation can be had.

It tends to go something like this:

Atheist: Science I can see, and touch, and test and prove. Can you not accept that as a better base for guiding your life than blind faith?

Theist: My faith isn't Blind. I know God exists. I feel him all around me.

Atheist: Show me then. If he's all around give me an example.

Theist: I can't. If you don't accept Jesus as your personal saviour, you simply can't understand it. Let God into your life and he'll reveal himself to you.


Do the believers around here feel that this is accurate? Or is it a conversational scapegoat for believers when they get a bit cornered on things like the demand for physical evidence?





There are plenty of miserable religious people who still believe in god despite the misery and not even because it makes them feel better.

There are religious people who still believe but who do bad things because they feel they have no other option.
 
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The cleaned-up version of that argument is that the atheist is predisposed to disbelieve any evidence in favor of God, and therefore all the evidence given is disregarded because of that. In other words, atheists are as afflicted by confirmation bias (and other similar biases) as they accuse theists of.

That version of the argument has the merit of being more or less true, though it being true doesn't tell us anything about whether God exists or not.

Whether a specific theist is making that argument or is just using a "conversational scapegoat" depends on the theist.
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What does "giving yourself over" to G-d mean?
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Anonymouse512 wrote:
The cleaned-up version of that argument is that the atheist is predisposed to disbelieve any evidence in favor of God, and therefore all the evidence given is disregarded because of that. In other words, atheists are as afflicted by confirmation bias (and other similar biases) as they accuse theists of.

That version of the argument has the merit of being more or less true, though it being true doesn't tell us anything about whether God exists or not.

Whether a specific theist is making that argument or is just using a "conversational scapegoat" depends on the theist.
No they are predisposed to disbelieve any evidence in favour of God that they cannot test or verify for themselves. If I tell you I can feel there is no god is that evidence there is no god?
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Quote:
Palmer Joss (religious person): [Ellie challenges Palmer to prove the existence of God] Did you love your father?
Ellie Arroway (scientist): What?
Palmer Joss: Your dad. Did you love him?
Ellie Arroway: Yes, very much.
Palmer Joss: Prove it.


It's a simple exchange and yes, it's from a movie (Contact) based on a book by Carl Sagan...but I still think it speaks to these kinds of questions and interactions in a very profound way.

Not everything can be proven and easily defined such as faith or love. I'm assuming for the sake of discussion we can at least agree they exist, whether or not we agree upon the definitions and details that encompass their existence.

I don't think the mentioned interaction example a scapegoat. I think it's a true statement: if you have not chosen to accept and walk the same path as another, then you don't completely understand things in the same capacity. Many of us have similar and comparable experiences in life, but none are identical...an idea that we are one of many, but all singularly unique. It's that concept of the labyrinth experience that Borges wrote about: it's not enough that we read the same books, go to the same schools, hear the same words, etc. That doesn't make us identical and result in the same outcome of beliefs and views. It also matters which order we read them in - what the details of our life at the point of that experience is and how we interpret and adapt to those experiences.

Note that this also applies to people who hold the SAME beliefs. We still don't necessarily have the exact same capacity of understanding. This is why I think we tend to talk about the same ideas and concepts over and over again together: we keep trying to clarify, filter and communicate our experiences and understanding (often ad nauseum) because even though we don't often talk about it, we all "get" that there isn't a single other person who has lived our same life and necessarily sees things exactly the same.

I think the example provided is kind of glossing over the concept that the same kind of thing is being done to the religious person: the atheist is assuming the religious person is ignorant or made the "wrong" other choice or incorrectly experienced life such that they didn't come to the same conclusion as the atheist. The atheist is assuming the religious person would - and should - see things differently. It's the different sides of the same coin: both don't accept that they can both be right at the same time, based on the same (or at least comparable) experiences - but different filters and lives that define the judgement of those experiences.
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It's one of those Catch-22's that usually ends conversations I have with religious people. If I have to have faith first in any religion before I can glimpse it's God(s) then it doesn't pass my smell test. Faith changes your perceptions to see everything from that religions viewpoint, so that if a certain phenomena is seen by three different people of three different faiths they will all see their particular "hand of god" and the fourth person without faith will just see it from natural terms. That's not my idea of proof of god. I don't get how people don't see the paradox there, I shouldn't have to believe in the supernatural to witness it. The witnessing should be enough to then become a believer.
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TheChin! wrote:
It's one of those Catch-22's that usually ends conversations I have with religious people. If I have to have faith first in any religion before I can glimpse it's God(s) then it doesn't pass my smell test. Faith changes your perceptions to see everything from that religions viewpoint, so that if a certain phenomena is seen by three different people of three different faiths they will all see their particular "hand of god" and the fourth person without faith will just see it from natural terms. That's not my idea of proof of god. I don't get how people don't see the paradox there, I shouldn't have to believe in the supernatural to witness it. The witnessing should be enough to then become a believer.


This is somewhat how I feel.

Hypnosis also requires you to let down your guard and accept it in order for it to work. You can't hypnotize the unwilling.
 
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slatersteven wrote:
If I tell you I can feel there is no god is that evidence there is no god?


"Evidence" (as I use it) is something that makes a proposition more likely. So it would depend on how likely you are to have that feeling when god does and doesn't exist, and the current chance for god's existence. (Oddly enough, that feeling could end up being evidence that god exists.)

In any case, the adjustment to the chance that god exists based on that one data point would (and should) be very small.
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The question is interesting, indeed.

Personally, I've felt the presence of "Him" (God, Allah, Creator, whatever name one applies), most often in cases when I've been closest to abandoning all faith. So, I guess, from my experience, it would be a cop-out to tell someone they needed to have faith first.

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xilan wrote:
Quote:
Palmer Joss (religious person): [Ellie challenges Palmer to prove the existence of God] Did you love your father?
Ellie Arroway (scientist): What?
Palmer Joss: Your dad. Did you love him?
Ellie Arroway: Yes, very much.
Palmer Joss: Prove it.


It's a simple exchange and yes, it's from a movie (Contact) based on a book by Carl Sagan...but I still think it speaks to these kinds of questions and interactions in a very profound way.

Not everything can be proven and easily defined such as faith or love. I'm assuming for the sake of discussion we can at least agree they exist, whether or not we agree upon the definitions and details that encompass their existence.

I don't think the mentioned interaction example a scapegoat. I think it's a true statement: if you have not chosen to accept and walk the same path as another, then you don't completely understand things in the same capacity. Many of us have similar and comparable experiences in life, but none are identical...an idea that we are one of many, but all singularly unique. It's that concept of the labyrinth experience that Borges wrote about: it's not enough that we read the same books, go to the same schools, hear the same words, etc. That doesn't make us identical and result in the same outcome of beliefs and views. It also matters which order we read them in - what the details of our life at the point of that experience is and how we interpret and adapt to those experiences.

Note that this also applies to people who hold the SAME beliefs. We still don't necessarily have the exact same capacity of understanding. This is why I think we tend to talk about the same ideas and concepts over and over again together: we keep trying to clarify, filter and communicate our experiences and understanding (often ad nauseum) because even though we don't often talk about it, we all "get" that there isn't a single other person who has lived our same life and necessarily sees things exactly the same.

I think the example provided is kind of glossing over the concept that the same kind of thing is being done to the religious person: the atheist is assuming the religious person is ignorant or made the "wrong" other choice or incorrectly experienced life such that they didn't come to the same conclusion as the atheist. The atheist is assuming the religious person would - and should - see things differently. It's the different sides of the same coin: both don't accept that they can both be right at the same time, based on the same (or at least comparable) experiences - but different filters and lives that define the judgement of those experiences.


Yeah...I can give you a Brain Scan and see if you're in love or not. We can in fact "prove it". The problem with your response is that you are using a passage that is meant figuratively for a argument about concrete things. In the case of love, even if we couldn't monitor brain activity for the chemical releases that indicate it, we could still see the PERSON who is purportedly in love, observe them, and estimate the level of their love for another based on that observation.
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clockwerk76 wrote:

Yeah...I can give you a Brain Scan and see if you're in love or not. We can in fact "prove it". The problem with your response is that you are using a passage that is meant figuratively for a argument about concrete things. In the case of love, even if we couldn't monitor brain activity for the chemical releases that indicate it, we could still see the PERSON who is purportedly in love, observe them, and estimate the level of their love for another based on that observation.


Couldn't the same scan be applied to someone who is "feeling" the presence of their God? One could surmise that there would be some sort of difference in brain activity during moments when people are experiencing a connection God. I wouldn't say, though, that it "proves" God was there.

 
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xilan wrote:
It's a simple exchange and yes, it's from a movie (Contact) based on a book by Carl Sagan...but I still think it speaks to these kinds of questions and interactions in a very profound way.

Not everything can be proven and easily defined such as faith or love. I'm assuming for the sake of discussion we can at least agree they exist, whether or not we agree upon the definitions and details that encompass their existence.


Anyone who can't point to some objective things that at the very least strongly suggest they love their father is a probably doesn't love their father.
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weezknight wrote:
clockwerk76 wrote:

Yeah...I can give you a Brain Scan and see if you're in love or not. We can in fact "prove it". The problem with your response is that you are using a passage that is meant figuratively for a argument about concrete things. In the case of love, even if we couldn't monitor brain activity for the chemical releases that indicate it, we could still see the PERSON who is purportedly in love, observe them, and estimate the level of their love for another based on that observation.


Couldn't the same scan be applied to someone who is "feeling" the presence of their God? One could surmise that there would be some sort of difference in brain activity during moments when people are experiencing a connection God. I wouldn't say, though, that it "proves" God was there.



I think you missed my point, because you are essentially repeating it - minus the part about love itself actually being proveable, hence not a good example of us knowing that physically unproveable things in fact do exist.
 
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Lots of interesting stuff here, here's my two cents (as a believer) on a few of the points you make:

TheChin! wrote:
I don't get how people don't see the paradox there
What makes you think people don't see the paradox you describe?

TheChin! wrote:
I shouldn't have to believe in the supernatural to witness it.
That may be how we see the world, but we aren't the creator of this show.....we don't set the rules here. We can only discover true principles, or delude ourselves into thinking we understand them. There always has been and always will be disagreement about what is true and what is not. If it weren't that way, RSP would cease to exist.

TheChin! wrote:
The witnessing should be enough to then become a believer.
In your post, you've ignored the fundamental point of religion which is faith. If anyone could roll out of bed and instantly see/recognize God, there would be no need of faith. We may not completely understand why, but it's pretty clear that faith is an important princple to the creator. So while we can have the opinion, that needing to have faith (rather than simply being able to see/measure God) is stupid and just a way for the religious to brainwash themselves, we need to be careful how we position those statements.

So while I understand your statement: "The witnessing should be enough." It seems to me, that unless you are omniscient, it may be better stated: "It would be nice if the witnessing were enough." Not sure if I'm expressing my point clearly or not here.
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richcharters wrote:
In your post, you've ignored the fundamental point of religion which is faith.


I guess it's because basic belief having a precondition of faith is not satisfactory to me. If I have some kind of proof of God(s) then the faith would be more palatable to me like it's applied to a spouse, family member or friend. In other words, once I know that there is some kind of God, my faith is in it's nature, how it sees me and how I see it and how that relationship is supposed to develop through time. The actual existence part being based on faith breaks the model for me. I can't have blind faith in the hopes of having enlightened faith later, how does one choose what religion to put your blind faith in (what number on the roulette wheel is the winner)? It seems that many just go the path of least resistance and choose the path their particular origin culture provides them and that doesn't speak truth to me, it seems more like inertia.
 
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Humans are funny creatures.

If you felt the presence of God you would think it was that burrito you ate earlier or something.

The Pharisees, having seen Jesus perform many miracles, and even admitting to them, decided that Jesus was of Satan.

If you want a sign or a miracle, look no further than Christianity itself.

The original members of this religion were pretty much tossed out of society, and eventually were persecuted and many put to death just because they believed in the resurrection of Jesus, and that He was the Son of God.

The reason they believed in this ressurection was because they were told by eyewitnesses that it had happened, who passed it on to others. A book was compiled to memorialize it, a book which took the Jewish religion of laws and regulations and turned it on its head, yet still was based on the same God who hadn't changed. Even though for centuries no-one had understood what it meant, this new revelation fit right into what the old revelation had told us, had prophesied, etc.

If they were just looking to get into a new religion, why would they have piggy-backed? Why not just start a new one, especially since the main audience turned out to be the gentiles? It doesn't make sense. Why did all these gentiles accept the Jewish religion?

Why were they willing to die for it?

The gospel, Jesus coming to earth, dying for our sins, and being ressurected on the third day, is the only sign you need. That one-time event has been passed down for thousands of years. If there was no power in it, if there was no peace from it, it wouldn't have lasted through the persecution. No way.

People have not believed for various reasons throughout history, even after walking with Jesus, experiencing the power of Jesus, healing people himself, etc., Judas Iscariot didn't believe. He betrayed Jesus, even after all that. And you think that a little feeling is going to change your mind? Or that someone coming back from the dead would do it? Or that God appearing in front of your eyes, and saying, "Believe in me!" would do it? No way.

Without the faith God gives you, you will not believe. And since you don't believe, you don't believe you need that faith, and therefore you don't ask God to help you believe, or give you faith. You don't really want to, because you're hung up on whether it says two men can get married or not, instead of realizing the incredible gift of forgiveness and grace that Jesus Christ represents.

Someone earlier in this thread said something about proving love. God proved His love for us by dying for us when we were at our worst. He saves even the worst of us. Love is not a feeling, it's an action, and God took action. If He had instead not created humans, He would have had nobody to prove His love to, and no reason to do it, so humans have a huge purpose - to glorify God by showing His love for us, and displaying that love throughout the world for all to see and hopefully become a part of it.

If you don't want to believe, you're not going to. If you want to have faith, and God wants all to be saved, do you think he will withhold that faith from you? I don't think He would.

There is only one person responsible for your eternal disposition.
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clockwerk76 wrote:
Do the believers around here feel that this is accurate?


Does the opinion of a former believer turned agnostic matter?

I think that there is something to the "feeling" that God exists. At various times in my life, I've had feelings of wonder, awe, amazement, etc. These feelings were incredibly strong and although they often related to a major event (the birth of my children always triggered them, for example), there were occasions where they seemed disconnected from the world around me. When I was a part of a church, it was incredibly easy to attribute these feelings to the presence of God - they were transcendent and easy to ascribe to things outside of me.

When I stopped believing (not a short process), those feeling didn't necessarily go away - all of my children were born after that. And they have still been incredibly powerful. But without that assumption that God exists, they've just been incredibly intense emotions rather than something more. When they don't connect to a specific event, they're even things that I explore- anything that makes on that content and settled is worth understanding and attempting to replicate.

So the idea of "letting go" so that you can experience such feelings doesn't strike me as unusual at all. If you've "let go" and such a state has occurred when you did, it can be an intensely personal affirmation of your belief. And the right mix of scripture, preacher, companions, and setting could certainly have such a result.

There's certainly more to the idea of "letting God in" than these experiences, but they can be quite powerful when they happen. Throw in the expansion of your social community and support group when you join a congregation, the moral certainty that many religious provide, the idea that you are special within this vast universe, etc. There's much more to this than talking points.
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clockwerk76 wrote:

Do the believers around here feel that this is accurate? Or is it a conversational scapegoat for believers when they get a bit cornered on things like the demand for physical evidence?


IMO, obviously:

I don't believe that at all. God is not an exclusive thing, some club that you have to apply to in order to be accepted. Additionally, God doesn't care if you believe in it or not, as feelings like jealousy and possessiveness are generated from lack, and the sum of all things cannot lack. It's also unlikely that God has feelings as we understand them, as God is not an individual physical entity with an individual brain, therefore emotional responses wouldn't apply.

I am not a Christian, though. My wife is, and she doesn't believe in God as a micromanager who individually picks out believers to fill with awesome power. God is a Big Picture guy (entity).

So I guess the short answer is that answers vary.
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Jythier wrote:
If you don't want to believe, you're not going to.


What if I want to believe if and only if it's true?
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weezknight wrote:
clockwerk76 wrote:

Yeah...I can give you a Brain Scan and see if you're in love or not. We can in fact "prove it". The problem with your response is that you are using a passage that is meant figuratively for a argument about concrete things. In the case of love, even if we couldn't monitor brain activity for the chemical releases that indicate it, we could still see the PERSON who is purportedly in love, observe them, and estimate the level of their love for another based on that observation.


Couldn't the same scan be applied to someone who is "feeling" the presence of their God? One could surmise that there would be some sort of difference in brain activity during moments when people are experiencing a connection God. I wouldn't say, though, that it "proves" God was there.

No, it proves the feel god is there. You could scan someone and pick up a feeling of fear about crime without then actualy being the victim of crime. Feelings are evidance for feelings, not for the existance of what promotes those feelings.
 
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chaendlmaier wrote:
whac3 wrote:
What does "giving yourself over" to G-d mean?

"If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it." - Clayton Williams

Inevitable? It's gibberish.
 
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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Religion is not based on faith; certain religion-- like Christianity and Islam-- are. For that matter, only certain religions demand absolute submission to G-d which is what I suppose the OP's phrase means if anything.
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