Thursday, January 11, 2007

Now and then

I listened to another atheist podcast on the train this morning. I probably shouldn't do this as it just frustrates me. The 'Infidel Radio' podcast featured an interview with Nicholas Everitt, author of the book 'The Non-Existence of God'. Nicholas Everitt seems like a nice person and made a number of well reasoned arguments in defense of the atheist position. Fair enough.

What annoys me, though, is the unstated assumption that runs through all of the arguments for and against the existence of a deity - that the battleground between theism and non-theism is entirely in the realm of creation or the origins of the universe. Its all 'then', its never 'now'.

The greatest claim, not merely of Christianity but of all theistic positions is that God is. Not that 'God is [something]' (like, perhaps 'God is omniscient') but that God is a reality in the present.

Debates about what happened six thousand years ago or billions of years ago at the time of creation / origin are fine, but they only deal with then, not now. If there is no god now, then what's the point of arguing about then.

So many of the theistic arguements that Nick Everitt knocked down relied on 'God is [something]' reasoning. Thus, if it can be shown to be reasonable that a god cannot be [whatever] then it logically follows that (the specified) god cannot exist. QED.

But none of the arguments even attempted to address the 'God is' issue.

I truly believe that God is. Not because I was raised this way, not because I reasoned my way towards it, but because I have experienced God and cannot find any other reasonable explanation for all the experiences I have had. Sure, some may have been emotional response, some may have been psycological and triggered by the power of suggestion by clever motivational speakers, but not all. Some were due to the real God.

God is - of this I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt.

Of course I still have loads of doubts:
God is omnipotent? Not sure...
God is omnipresent? Could be...
God is the creator? Room for doubt there too...
and so on.
But God is.

1 comment:

jojo said...

Rick, you are right about the greatest claim, that God is, and is not [something]. After all, God said to Moses, "I am that I am." As far as his being [something], don't be confused by scriptural accounts of his "being this or that", for it was written in such a way that we might gain insight into his very being. How would you choose to describe such a being as God, if not in [common] language? Whether we speak in terms of his being omniscient, merciful, beautiful, loving, kind, or all the rest, you must admit it is an attempt to somehow capture or explain the incomprehensible or unexplainable, in human terms. Can you imagine being given the task of describing or explaining God to others without using at least one of these human terms? I dare you to try it. Even if you could, how many people would understand what you are saying?
As far as the "then" and "now" concerns, I would agree with you. We both know that if God is, then there is really no argument about what happened eons ago or what is happening today. These become frivolous rolls of the dice in a game of trivial pursuit.
Now, to those who argue that God cannot BE because they irrationally assert that if God is [something] inconsistent with what we experience, I must say that they've missed the point. And here we come round about again with what God is. Am I saying here that God is [something]? No, God is not [something], but to be sure, he is someone. The [something] we may talk about only comes from our limited knowledge of him; all of our other limitations follow this. The main point here is that we should not be surprised by a God who exists, that he should manifest his character in various ways, whether we question them or not, and that we can only communicate on our level what and who God is. You've talked about experiencing God, yet you have yet to explain such experiences in detail. You have even gone on to say that you have no reasonable explanation for all the experiences you've had. So, why then should we believe you, unless you expect us to be just as unreasonable?