God is “Not Necessarily” Real…

So this is a pretty long overdue post. Hopefully I can get this done today. In the past few weeks I have covered politics and sex here. According to my caucasian cousin Shirlann,  I need to cover religion next. Just to have a balanced diet of social commentary. Luckily I just so happened to have something up my sleeve. (Warning: this post is not for those lacking in brain cells.)

A while ago I went to see Bill Maher’s “Religulous” movie. I really enjoyed it. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the movie, Bill Maher goes around and talks to people about their religion and why it makes sense to them. The movie centers around Christianity for the most part, but also talks some about Judaism and Islam. He of course is very skeptical, and he admits this, but basically he is challenging people to help him understand some of the more farfetched aspects of their religion. It’s one of those movies that gets people talking. Everyone who was in the theater came out having some sort of discussion. When we were waiting for my girlfriend to come out of the bathroom we broke out in a mini debate (a civil one) with some people out in the lobby. Then the five of us who went to see the movie went to dinner and talked about religion (and some politics tied into religion) for the rest of the night. I love movies that get people talking.

Want to know what we were talking about? How bad do you want to know? Say pretty please. Well since you asked so nicely…

The idea of questioning faith is something that many people frown upon. When someone questions your faith the person is looked at as a blasphemer or as some sort of lost lamb. Questioning your own faith is something that is looked at as weakness or impurity. Who are we to question things after all? Everything is laid out in the bible for us nice and easy. All we have to do is read and obey right? Wrong as far as I’m concerned. There is nothing wrong with questioning things. Even things like faith. There is just a right way to question things and a wrong way to question things.

In the movie Maher makes it a point to tell people that he is not an atheist. Atheists believe that there is no god. Maher says that he does not preach atheism, but rather he preaches “I don’t know.” He doesn’t know if there’s a God and he doesn’t claim to know. Now here is where I agree with him. Let me state first that I am a Christian in the sense that I believe in Jesus and in God. I was raised Roman Catholic, but I wouldn’t really say that I can classify myself as that anymore. My church is Roman Catholic, but I am not really. Now for the record, questioning things is not exactly a staple of the Roman Catholic church. Luckily for me my Dad was not always the best at making it to church. I mean we went, but it definitely was not like clockwork. (Okay enough on that tangent. Back to questioning faith.)

Being Catholic I received the blessed sacraments and thus had to sit through my fair share of Sunday school (and bible study at times). I was baptized, I had my Holy Communion, and I even had Confirmation. I had to read alot of bible for that. I was taught a lot about my religion. I was also taught not to believe everything I read. Some stuff in the bible just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The story of Lot sticks out like a sore thumb to me. You know what we would call a guy today who tells people to rape his virgin daughter instead of him? We’d call him an asshole that’s what we’d call him. There is just no good moral to that story for me. Yet for some people there is a good moral to that story. That is that god hates faggots. I digress. Point is religion is not an exact science. In turn this means that faith is not an exact science. I am not supposed to question these things sometimes. Please!

Look I’ve said this before. Having faith is by definition BELIEVING without KNOWING. That is the whole point. It would be super easy to believe in something if we knew it was real. (Example: If I told you I could make you a millionaire would you believe me? How about if I gave you a million dollars, would you believe me then?) This is why I don’t claim to know things like if Jesus is real or if there is in fact a God. What I do know is what I BELIEVE. I BELIEVE there is a God. I BELIEVE Jesus died for our sins. If you Catholics were paying attention at church then you would know that its in our creed. It goes “We believe in one god, the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth” not “We know with absolute certainty that there is one god…”

So as I said before there is a right and a wrong way to discuss faith. That means to all you Christians out there, if you want to ask someone why they don’t believe in God, then do just that. ASK them, don’t tell them. See if they have questions and try to answer them. If they are going to be Christian let it be because they decided that it made sense to them and not because you told them they are going to burn in hell. Also, to all you atheists. (Yes I am scolding you too. The Christians get it all the time, its your turn now.) While it’s okay to politely engage in a debate with someone about their faith and ask them about things you may not understand, it is never okay to try to tear down a person’s faith. Faith is a beautiful thing and it is never okay to try to take that from someone.

Okay I have more but I’ve decided to end this here. There will be a second part to this next week. Hopefully on Monday. I still have to talk about why my Dad left the movie looking like he saw a ghost and the end of humanity. Also don’t forget Xanga Mystery Blogger is starting next Tuesday. Till next time dweebs.

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43 comments

  1. Yeah it’s hard for us as humans to believe in something we haven’t been slapped over the face with. God is around I believe and we see signs and things that occur. If you want to be technical we are surrounded by Him by living in His creation. You have to wonder who created the earth, the heavens, the beauty in nature…so I guess that is an example but we have this I’ll believe it when I see it attitude that unless God came down from the sky we would still be skeptical. I question my faith all the time, but I use that as a tool to draw closer and seek God as opposed to walking away from Him…even Jesus was right there among men and they still had a hard time believing…Jesus’  own disciples wanted to see him alive after the resurrection just to be sure…I mean I figure if they couldn’t even fully accept it without proof then they’d be questioning their faith like everyone else so we all go through it, it’s human.

  2. Great.  I agree with you in so many ways…they say it’s hard out there for a pimp…ha! A  pimp couldnt walk a block in he shoes of a Christian!!!!!!!  lolBut seriously you make great points.  and this Dave…is why i ❤  you the most!

  3. Wow, that was a remarkably well-thought out and decidedly un-controversial post about religion! Am I still on vanedave’s site? Just checking…Why, yes, my “tan” cousin; I do believe that if you’re going to touch on the taboo subjects of politics and sex, you might as well hit the tri-fecta and post on religion too. I just didn’t expect it to be this… tame. I have a hard time thinking of anyone who could leave a douchy comment on this one; but I’ll recommend it just the same. People surprise me sometimes.

  4. Thus the saying “Believing isn’t seeing, seeing is believing.”  So often misconcepted when one says “I believe”…it doesn’t mean that there is rock solid proof in your hands…it means you’ve got rock solid proof in your heart.

  5. When I was a whole lot younger I got to know Joseph Campbell through his books and a documentary series that he did on public television.  He traveled and studied all religions and cultures and then showed how closely connect they all are.  After experiencing that and having the way far opened mind of mine, I never could look at just one religion and say “this is for me” . I think if people want and know a fellowship and a community where they share their journey in spirit, then that is right and good for them.  As a seeker to understanding of people and their individuality, I think that if we are uplifted by faith and know that miracles happen we can achieve so much more among our brothers and sisters through our humanity. We can call it what ever we wish. Just let it bring us together and the world will be a better place. (no I won’t do the song here) Love ya Dave! Have a great weekend.

  6. I have a friend.For many years he questioned my belief in God, he not only questioned, but we debated, we tore strips (ie off each others beliefs), we dated for a while and then not.  In the end I gave in.  I simply told him that when he knew, he would know.  He looked at me, he scoffed but he gave up after a while because that was my only comeback, we had been over it too many times before.  Our friendship was more important than either of us being right.One day, he had an experience.  Out of that experience he come to KNOW God.  Know beyond a shadow of belief know, know like the greek word for faith = conviction means to know.He came to me, and told me I had been right, the simplicity is, that YOU KNOW when you have met the living God.x

  7. From the title and the first bit of the post, I was expecting one thing.  But it ended up being a well-written, not very controversial post on religion.  Good job pulling that one off!  I agree a lot of us Christians aren’t that tactful when dealing with atheism.  We’re told to always have an answer for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15), but it goes on to say to do this with gentleness and respect.  Some people just have the respect of a sledgehammer.  What can I say?  We’re not perfect.

  8. Im glad that I attend a church that welcomes questions.  Its only natural and any Christian who actually studies the Bible would welcome questions too.  I think the ones who cant have a civil conversation about religion are the ones who just “go to church” but really dont study the word of God.

  9. I really want to see the Bill Maher movie.  Anything that pisses Pat Robertson off has GOT to be great. I had an anathema from the Church.  I believed because I had been indoctrinated with all the tools they use: songs, prayers, memorization.  When I got fed up with pastors preaching about the Evils of Harry Potter as they were passing around the collection plate, I thought to myself, “i’m going to be a stay-at-home Christian. I’m done with these assholes.”  I got myself a Strong’s Concordance and started reading.  It was then and only then that I realized that the Bible is a complete sham.  Christianity is not a religion of love and peace, its legacy is steeped in hatred.  I reflected upon all those people who died during the crusades.  And all the people God killed in the Bible because He felt like it.  You know how many people Satan kills?  Ten: Job’s children.  Because he and God had a bet!  I am totally, totally, totally DONE with Christianity.  I’m done with religion in general.  The furthest I will go is Zen Buddhism, which does not require a belief in God.  I believe in some sort of universal energy, but our relationship to It is like that of a relationship between ourselves and the atoms in our cells.  There’s some kind of relationship there, but it isn’t a conscious one.  I am disappointed that so many people are so brainwashed in their desperation to “make sense of it all” and find meaning in life, or what’s worse, think that something they do now will be rewarded upon their death.  This is how you get people to conform and obey.  I’ll stick to my nothingness, I’m much more AWAKE, know what I mean?My anger toward religion is most eloquently expressed by this Chris Hitchens video.

  10. I grew up in the Church of Christ.  I never really felt comfortable with their teachings and once I met the man that has become my husband and started going to church with him that I learned that it is okay to question things.  I went through RCIA last year (which is the equivalent of catechism classes that young Catholics go through).  During that I met and spoke with the monsignor of our church quite a few times and he encouraged us to ask questions., to delve deeper into the religion and our own personal faith to see if becoming a Catholic is something we really wanted to do.  I must admit….it was a little intimidating at first, but I think there is a certain level of understanding that must come with your “research” into your faith.  I had learned to repeat the Niocene Creed after so many trips to a Catholic Church, because let’s face it…..repetition is key…..but I never really paid attention to the words that I was saying until I attended RCIA and broke the Creed down line by line.  So I encourage people to ask questions!  Thanks for posting this Dave. Just for that…I’ll make you TWO sandwiches! :o)

  11. I love this! It was well written, and the epitome of respectful.  I want to comment on actually questioning people, particularly of the Christian persuasion.  Let me start by saying that I, too, believe in God and Jesus.  I have found, when attempting to engage some people in intelligent conversation about the why’s of their religious beliefs, their responses are hesitant and shaky, at best.  Some people maybe only believe something because they were told to, or becuase they’re afraid to question and so the foundation of their beliefs is horribly cracked, and they can’t say why and fully defend their position.  I actually ran into this with a couple Mormons once.  Hmmm…maybe you have just inspired my next post.  Eh, whatever, I’m rambling.  This was awesome, and I can’t wait for Mystery Tuesday!!!  Dweeb!

  12. @Rchick2006 – fantastic points you made here. In fact even Jesus questioned God. “Father. Why have you foresaken me?’@Shirlann – My fingers are crossed for a douchey comment anyways. I think part two might be a bit more controversial. I like to ease people into the conversation before I sucker punch them.@CiaoBella810 – Yeah but still, it is hard out there for a pimp. Don’t you get it twisted.@jediwa72 –  Exactamundo!@Jaynebug –  We are so in sync on this one. Aww now I can’t wait to get into part two with you. I have so much more to say about intertwining religions.@wherever_we_go – And that is the answer. If God exists then leave it up to God to show himself to those who do not know.@DuckTapeJourneyman –  lol. Sledgehammers can be tactful. no?@kellychicky – Brainwashing. That’s how wars are started.

  13. @vanedave – while I agree that it is a revelation of God that is needed ‘personally’….. and one has to know when to step back and let God be God.The New Testament, is full of stories of people coming to know God through men/women actively talking about him and living it out on a day to day basis.Acts 17 would be a pretty good example of this.x

  14. Great post! I work for 2 ministries and all day long, I dialogue with Atheists, Agnostics, and Christians who have questions. We all have questions and everyone should have a comfortable place to ask them. I’m not here to plug the ministries I work for in any way… but if someone reading this doesn’t have a place to ask your questions, we’re here for you – http://www.GotQuestions.org and http://www.AllAboutGOD.com. These are not debate sites. They are for people with genuine questions. Great post!

  15. @IssyMae – I’ll have to check those sites out when I have time.I’ve actually began tinkering with the idea of making a documentary on atheism and religion in America. There does appear to be this huge gap that does not seem to exist on the same level between other demographics. There are a ton of questions I would love to ask and I’m sure religious people would want to ask us.Even other atheists are fascinating to me. I grew up without religion so I never had to make that difficult choice to leave behind the belief system that my family, friends, and community adhere to. I would love to talk to those of you who had to go through that. I would also enjoy talking to people who ARE religious and see why you believe what you believe. Thoughtful religious people, not the ones who consider “Does God approve of this DVD” or “Am I not hearing Jesus by reading this book” to be the height of contemplation.

  16. I think it’s essential to question one’s beliefs. I also think it’s important to let go of my own insistence on being right, and just say “I believe this because I want to believe it.”What I’ve never understood is why people get angry when others don’t accept their version of truth. If it can’t be verified, but only believed, it’s the height of arrogance to assume someone is going to take your word for it on something so important as eternity.I had an experience nine years ago that brought me back to Catholicism (though, if you read some of the comments I’ve been getting lately, it didn’t lead me far enough). It was a very subjective experience, and it isn’t necessarily valid to anyone else, so I don’t go around trumpeting about it and trying to earn brownie points with God by “winning souls” with my story.Someone recently asked me what I thought about atheists living good lives and being moral people. I thought about that and concluded that, in my opinion, someone who doesn’t believe, but lives a moral life is ethically (oh, is this going to get me in trouble) superior to someone who does good in hope of reward or fear of punishment. It’s very brave to do the right thing because it’s right.I’m at risk of turning this into one of those epic comments, so I’ll hush now. Hugs, Cousin Dave!

  17. @denigma21 – Please feel free to ask me anything you’d like. I grew up in a Bible-Believing family so I might be able to answer some questions from your second point about religious people. I also have a friend who was agnostic for most of his life and about 7 years ago started studying Christian apologetics. He’d love to talk to you as well. His website is http://www.randallniles.com/. Let me know if I can help you with your documentary.

  18. @ficklemistress – Well look. I see where you are coming from. Things like sermons against Harry Potter are exactly the type of ridiculous thing I don’t like about religion. Basically when it becomes too much about guilt and extremism then I’m out. That being said, while religion and violence (see part two on Monday for more on this) go together like beavis and butthead, that does not mean that religion or faith for that matter are violent. Just as so many people miss the mark with crap like Harry Potter, there are many who miss the mark by commiting violent acts in the name of God. This does not mean that religion is inherently violent though. It simply means that there are many people who will use any means to accomplish their ends. 

  19. @Millsanicole – alright. So let’s make that peanut butter and jelly and turkey with muenster cheese on whole wheat.@Hathaway_Lane – Aww man Mormons. He discussed Mormons in the movie. Now that is one interesting religion!@IssyMae – no problem. plug away. as long as I get my e props!@denigma21 – Do you think god approves of this blog?@MlleRobillard – Man I gotta get on MSN so we can have some scholarly debates once in a while. @WendyDarling128 – thank you.@Shirlann – fingers crossed! 

  20. Props. I’ve always thought it tacky when my fellow Atheists tried to attack people for having faith in a god. Uhm, guys? You’re not accomplishing anything productive. Hell-O? You’re just making us look like assholes.

  21. I think that it’s good to question your own faith, to “wrestle with the truth” so to speak.  I’ve found that it generally deepens my own faith because I end up understanding something that was previously beyond my comprehension.

  22. ***spoiler alert*** I’d give you a mini, but I was mad at “Religulous.” I think Bill Maher started from a, as you so eloquently put it, douchy paradigm. I don’t think he was merely traveling around asking religious people why their religion makes sense to them, but rather why their religion doesn’t make sense to him. Most importantly, in some instances, he was being nitpicky. (Favorite part of the movie: the anti-Israel Orthodox(?) Jew who drove Bill Maher out. THAT was funny.) In other instances, he was being downright prejudicial, and offensive: as in, his treatment of Islam. I feel like, if he is going to go around asking people to suspend their belief, he should be ready to make SOME concessions and suspend his disbelief. I mean, isn’t that part of your post anyway? Faith requires you to suspend your disbelief concerning things that are otherwise unbelievable. Most importantly, I feel like Bill Maher’s agenda wasn’t to start a dialogue concerning religion. It wasn’t anything that progressive. His conclusion reveals that “Religulous” was a rallying cry for the un-religious to organize and fight the fundies (politically/socially); that says to me, that his only purpose for interviewing the religious was to try and embarass them. That’s just not okay with me. I think it’s kinda disrespectful. If he simply wanted to make people think, I think he handled it wrong…And he picked a lot of EASY targets. That said, even though I’m inclined to continue, your post is pretty measured. I’m “spiritual” (i kinda prefer the term deist, cause it’s a lot less new-agey, but I’ll take what I can get) so I sincerely don’t believe that religion should be as dogmatic as some people make it. I feel like the existence of (at least?) a God is the reasonable conclusion to the question of the universe’s existence. So long as I’m working from reason alone, there’s always that question hanging there waiting for “proof” of some sort. So, good post, sir. I look forward to reading why you’re dad went all ghostey.

  23. Because I don’t feel like being long, thought out, and half-way intelligent tonight, I will leave you with this singular comment:I have been wanting to see that movie. It looks good. And it’s good to question faith. It’s healthy. Makes you figure out what you believe and WHY you believe it outside of the ol’ “my youth minister/pastor/mom/dad/friend/whoever told me” reason.

  24. Beautifully written. This is why I respect you so.  I’m like Bill, one of those “I don’t know’s.”  I think I’m spiritual, though, and that is very different from religious to me.

  25. Sigh.I am an agnostic. I agree with the position that I don’t know, because I can’t know. I just don’t have whatever it is that is necessary to “believe”. I have said, often, Faith just is. You cannot be argued out of it any more than you can be argued into it.I have a serious quarrel with any religion that seeks to impose their belief system on society at large. (ie: Creationists arguing to have their creed taught in public schools. Obvious example, but there are others. Islamic theocracies are another.) I also cannot find it in me to have faith in a book that argues against and disallows an abundance of scientific findings. I see the Bible as more of a philosophical guide rather than a factual textbook. I beleive in “The Golden Rule”, and that loving thy neighbour is a good thing. The “moral of the story” is to be kind, to treat others well, to help those who are suffering. I have a question for Christians … And I do not mean for it to come off as nasty or offensive, I really don’t. But, it’s a paradox, and I have to ask you this:Is Fred Phelps going to heaven? He believes in God and Jesus with all his heart, and I believe that his faith in what he is doing is sincere. He is, in fact, preaching from the Bible. (He’s just chosen one particular part to obsess about.) So, is this sincere Christian, although a hate-filled and disgusting human being, going to heaven, while an atheist who has given their life to helping others and loving and showing tolerance to all is going to hell? The answer from the Bible is “yes”. Fred Phelps will spend eternity in heaven, while the “good atheist” will go to hell.Is there something I have missed, something that would turn these answers around?

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