Find God, Find Yourself

March 16, 2017 § 1 Comment

gender-cover-final

From TIME Magazine: “This week’s TIME cover story, with exclusive data from GLAAD, explores a change taking hold in American culture. The piece explores how you-do-you young people are questioning the conventions that when it comes to gender and sexuality, there are only two options for each: male or female, gay or straight. Those aspects of identity — how one sees themselves as a man or woman, for instance, and who they are drawn to physically and romantically — are distinct but undergoing similar sea changes, as teenagers and 20-somethings reject notions of what society has told them about who they are supposed to be.”

What this article (‘Behind the TIME Cover Story: Beyond ‘He’ or ‘She”)(1) shows is that a generation is struggling to ground itself in any kind of firm identity, many opting instead to go wherever their feelings take them to search out an identity. Often we don’t like who we are, but I think the issue is more that we don’t know who we are. And we can’t truly know who we are unless we know who God is.

Objective truth can be grounded in the nature of God, but without belief in God or truth that is objective, absolute, or universal, we would have no reason to believe in something like the immutability of gender or sexuality. In fact, if truth were relative, what would it mean to finally decide who we are on our own? Any future conviction we may have about our identity would be just as subject to change as our current convictions. Facebook’s 60 options for a user’s gender are not nearly enough.

God’s word reveals that “God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27) While God has no gender, it’s noteworthy that the completeness of the male and female complementarity came right along with forming mankind in His own likeness.

If nothing else, this tells us that male and female “binaries” are not merely “notions of what society has told them about who they are supposed to be.” This is our Creator telling us who we actually are and have always been.

The truth that we are God’s image-bearers, that He made us and loves us, justifies any notion of value or self-worth. If the God of the Bible does not exist, then we are likely accidental collisions of molecules. Do we matter then? Or are we just matter?

I met a high school student who had written YOU MATTER on both his own forearms with a pen. When I asked him about it, he said he’s not sure if he really believes he really matters, but seeing it there helps him through his depression. We only matter if God made us on purpose. This already depressed young man is in particular danger if he follows his atheism to its logical end.

Given the high degree of depression among the LGBTQ community, especially teens, and those with gender dysphoria, there is an accelerated danger in rejecting our Creator, His pattern for sex and gender, and trying to redefine both for ourselves.

We will never be fully satisfied in remaking ourselves in our own image because then we have idolized autonomy, choosing to live in “my reality” vs biological, historical, or spiritual reality. We’re told we can be whoever we want to be, but we need to start with who we actually are. A confused culture “in the throes of self-discovery” will not find its true identity until it finds God.

1) Steinmetz, Katy “Behind the TIME Cover Story-Gender and Sexuality: Beyond ‘He’ or ‘She’.” TIME Magazine 16 Mar. 2017. TIME.com Web. (Link: http://time.com/4703058/time-cover-story-beyond-he-or-she/)

Atheism and Occam’s Razor (& Why Christianity Makes the Cut)

September 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

A recent dialog.

Atheist:

I think you might misunderstand atheism if you think I need proof that it is true. Atheism is a nonbelief. Atheist simply don’t believe that there is any god. We are making no claims, and therefor have no burden of proof. It is the same thing as not believing in Bigfoot. There’s really no need or way to produce evidence that it doesn’t exist. All you can do is discredit the “evidence” for it. If indisputable evidence comes along, then you would be foolish not to believe it. Atheist simply need hard evidence of god’s existence before they will believe.

I agree with you that we need to make some basic assumptions to be able to argue anything. Or else we are left with nihilism or we are living in a computer simulation or something…haha. But your argument just adds unnecessary assumptions. You said that your authority for using reason is because a god created us and he has reason. We are still left with the same question, just on a larger scale now. Who created god, or where did his reason come from? Did god create reason, or is reason something outside of god that he simply conforms to? Let’s keep things simple, and using Occam’s razor cut out the unnecessary assumptions.

My morality is not a list of 10 (or however many) black and white rules that were given by an outside source. It’s basically grounded on the assumption that all humans are equal and should be treated with the dignity that I myself would desire (unless they do something to violate another in some way). Basically the old golden rule and common sense. It is circumstantial, subjective and not set in stone.

Christian:

I think I do understand that atheism is another belief system. Instead of God, the atheist worships something like human reasoning. It seems as if you would like to portray atheism as passive non-belief, but non-belief requires belief in something, as you plainly reveal in your statements: “Atheism is X” is a claim, and so is “We are making no claims.” I don’t deny that “we need to make some basic assumptions to be able to argue anything,” that’s absolutely true. What can’t be done on atheism however, is explaining WHY we make the assumptions. You unknowingly borrow from Christianity.

If I had made the claim that a Creator God requires an endless regress of Creators, I would most definitely be multiplying assumptions. But I haven’t made that claim, you have. The God of the Bible is the eternal first cause, which is by nature a necessary being that is uncaused. God didn’t create reason nor did He adopt reason, but reason is a part of His nature. That is by far the more simple and parsimonious answer.

You say your morality is grounded in certain assumptions; How does that put atheism on firmer ground than theism? What you assume is that all humans are equal, should be treated with dignity, and how we would want to be treated. I agree, as those happen to be Biblical principals! Do you not assume that these rules are objective and should be relevant to everyone else? You label them subjective in speech but not practice. And why do you assume them in the first place? I don’t suggest that you necessarily get them from reading the Bible, but I do suggest that they are moral values that we can’t NOT know because we are made in the image of a moral God, another Biblical principal. To explain our real world experience of reason and morality on a worldview of origins in mere matter and motion is to multiply assumptions far beyond what is necessary.

A Conversation About the Nature of Truth

May 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

David

Question: Is what you believe, been told or taught what you observe?

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D. O.

People see what they want to see.

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David

Just a thought I had after reading something about Greek philosopher Epicurus… the art of rational living. He was one of the first to see behavior from the standpoint of observance instead of just thought.

I was just wondering how people now saw things as what they are told or led to see them, or as they actually observe them and come to their own conclusions.

Truth is ultimately up to the individual, but the myriad of influences creates infinite “truths”…

For the curious… http://philosophy.lander.edu/ethics/epicurus.html

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Marsha

I was trying to tell my daughter to question everything. She didn’t get it. She’s 10. Just because someone tells you something doesn’t mean it’s true or real. I know my truth is different than most, but it’s true to me.

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Mike

Presuppositions are always part of our conclusions, but truth is true for everyone regardless of our perception of it.

Case in point, if we say truth is relative yet tell someone there is a certain way to view and handle truth, i.e. “truth is ultimately X” or “question everything”, we presuppose that truth is absolute and that it should apply to others as well as ourselves.

If a person questions everything, she must also question the idea that she should question everything. Maybe the 10 year old does get it. 🙂 The reason we question anything is because we assume there is an absolute answer somewhere.

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David

I assume no such absolute truths. Doesn’t mean that I don’t observe all possibilities.

Truth is a variable. It is what you choose to accept.

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Mike

How then can “truth is a variable” be true if others reject it? And if it isn’t assumed to be absolutely true by the presenter, then why present it?

Haven’t looked at the epicurus link yet, but I am epicurious…

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David

A variable the individual needs to pin down for themselves. The ‘others’ are the influence that is the problem.

Drivel is presented in perfectly plausible fashion every day and you can fool all of the people some of the time. Repeat something enough, build in a fear of not believing it, and develop a social network to fence them all in, an you got yourself a nice sustainable whatever. Global warming activists, ultra-conservatives, cults, the Amish, crack houses, whatever.

I prefer to stay out of that situation and choose my own vantage point.

Debate: Christ’s Resurrection

April 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

This discussion stemmed from an article I posted from Relevant Magazine of a defense Tim Keller gave for the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection. The article can be found here.

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David 

I read it. The title “A Case for…” and the word “proof” is at odds with each other.

It is simply an argumentative point of view.

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Mike 

True that “evidence for/a case for” does not equal ”proof”, although the definition can be broad. The word proof is not in the actual article. The descriptive text above was apparently written by someone other than the author. Although an “argumentative point of view” would not necessarily include evidence, which the case for Christ’s resurrection does.

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David 

The bible also alludes to there being giants, but aside from the book saying it, no evidence appears to exist to quantify it.

I can buy “because I believe it” from people, but the evidence the believers provide is often lackluster in the influence or subjectivity of that belief.

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Mike 

What the Bible states (not alludes) about giants we don’t have evidence for other than Old Testament manuscripts that have shown themselves to be otherwise very reliable. While giants aren’t proven, it’s a reasonable belief. The validity of Christianity rests on Jesus Christ defeating death. Giants don’t make or break any critical doctrine. Proportionately, there is a lot more evidence for a risen Christ than fallen giants, and that’s good news.

I agree with you on the lackluster defense by many Christians. We are called to give a reasonable defense (1 Peter 3:15). Some don’t get that. What is lackluster about Keller’s defense?

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David 

All of what you wrote and asked of me require belief that there was a Jesus-as-deity, that the bible is more than a book of allegory mixed within the framework of accepted and/or verifiable history.

Being that I do not subscribe to these beliefs personally, I see all references to the bible-as-fact/truth as suspect and argumentatively invalid outside Judeo-Christian belief system (or other religions that have a historical overlap in the timeline, such as Islam).

I know you believe, and that is cool. I am of the acceptance that belief in the bible equates to truth or evidence, and as I said before, I am not of the mind to change anyone’s belief as I am not compelled to change my own.

In short, he was preaching to the choir. To me, he was just expounding or trying to add validation to a religious story.

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Christine 

You may not believe in Him, but He believes in you. Just ask Him!

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David 

Ugh. Paradox.

Christine, how can I ask a him I don’t believe in? I know you are being nice, and Christians sure do like to save us heathens, and I appreciate the spirit of that. I don’t believe in vampires either, and I see it as being identical, despite the Vlad the Impaler inspiration for Dracula which could have as easily carried on to a current day religion with the right authors and some dictatorial mandate. Instead of that Twilight stuff. I digress…

I think of all the current day followers of Scientology and their Xenu character. I don’t want to stop them from what they believe either, despite how utterly goofy it is. I am sure it could be said Xenu believes in me too by those guys, they just don’t have enough time in. The Mormons have come a long way since that guy read those magic writings in the hat. They come over a lot with name badges and mountain bikes, and dress like the Geek Squad at Best Buy. I asked one to clear a virus off my computer but he wasn’t going for it.

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Mike 

“I see all references to the bible-as-fact/truth as suspect and argumentatively invalid outside Judeo-Christian belief system”

Dave, if I understand this right, you’re saying there’s no believing in Christianity unless you’re already a Christian?

What’s significant about the case Keller presents is that it requires no Christian presuppositions to follow the logic of the argument and eventually conclude that an actual resurrection is the most likely answer. If accepted, the conclusions become what Christians presuppose: That the Bible is true and that Jesus really was who He claimed to be. One of the questions the article poses is how a belief that has pervaded every part of the world could start as Christianity had if its leader were dead. Consider the historical roots that few irreligious will dispute: The church began with a handful of followers who faced torture and death if they preached a resurrected Savior, and they did so anyway. Did they persist for a lie, hoax or delusion, seeing their belief, unlike any other, spread globally against the tide of opposition instead of shrinking to nothing? The only rational alternative is that they had seen and believed in and were driven by a living Jesus whose mortal wounds they could see and touch. If that is true, the floodgates open for a host of other truths regarding Jesus’ power over death, His deity, and His word that changes everything, leading to a heart and soul commitment.

Not all Christians arrive the same way; for some it’s more faith than rationale. But one CAN make the journey without any of the axioms Christians hold to: No religion required along the way. The fact is, whatever we are—Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, or our own customized ideology—we did not always believe as we do now. At some point, we all have inquired of something we didn’t believe in.

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David 

This is how world wars are started, Mike… posts of escalating length. We are at leaflet now, but soon it will be books then volumes, then the bomb. I don’t have a bomb, Mike. They are very expensive.

Anyway. We all come to our own conclusions. There is a spin and/or plausible answer to most things from our humble vantage point, and these evolve (and occasionally de-evolve) over the ages.

What I meant is to be a believer you have to buy the story, and accept the bible as a set of facts. If you don’t, the bible isn’t a reference book… It is just a book of stories. It is more to those who believe in it. I have one… a Freemasonry edition from when I was active in it. It was an important text to those who believed in it throughout history, and I am not totally ignorant of its contents or impact on the world.

I believe in Christianity because I know there are those who do subscribe, therefore validation by the existence of a number of people who then are ascribed the moniker. Like I know there are Jehovah’s Witnesses because they keep ringing the bell while I am having dinner.

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Mike 

Believing something doesn’t make it true. That’s relativism, which no one actually lives out. An event (Christ’s resurrection, Superbowl XLIII, earthquakes in Japan, Charlie Sheen) either happened or didn’t regardless of whether we saw it or believe it. If truth was relative, there would be no point to discuss. Like any big purchase, we research to determine the absolute truth of something, then weigh the cost of buying/not buying. Christians are the effect of the resurrection, not the cause (unless it didn’t happen… But it looks as if it did).

Back down to postcard length! War averted (although I don’t have a bomb either so I think the world is safe ;).

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Dave didn’t respond after this post. The article in question can be found here.

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