Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 ~

Friday, November 27, 2015

How do you know someone is listening?

There was a time when I realised that I could not tell the difference between praying and merely talking to myself. I realised that the world looked and worked exactly the same even if there was no one listening. Of course, I still looked for answers and convinced myself that events in my life were "providence".


Then I realised that I was the one choosing which events were "answers from God". I was the one choosing what God was apparently telling me through scripture. I was doing the whole thing. I couldn't tell the difference between God really working in my life, and me just selectively interpreting events and messages as "God working in my life". Perhaps there was no difference.

If I was the one who ultimately decided which bits were "God speaking to me" and if I was the one who ultimately interpreted "what God was trying to tell me", then how could I know I wasn't just fooling myself?

The answer: I couldn't.

Every time I prayed after that, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was just talking to myself. Over time, I came to see that that was very likely all that was going on. Then I began to see that all of the things in the world that I had previously attributed to God made just as much sense (sometimes even more sense) without a god. The attribution was again just me making assumptions about the world.

People told me, "That's why you need faith", and they quoted Heb 11:6 to me.

But then I wondered, "What is faith and why is it so important?". If there was no evidence, and if there was no way to know, then how was this faith distinguishable from self-deception?

It wasn't long before I discovered the answer.

It isn't.

6 comments:

  1. This is Anonymous again. I guess I understand more about you from reading your question here, how can you know someone is listening to you. You mean, of course, like God. You sound to me as though you've felt greatly let down in your religious life. I think this is a very common experience. I also think it is what causes people to fall away from their belief in God. It's a little bit like a young child reacts when it can't get its way - a brat. We as fallen flesh are prone to this kind of behaviour. We have to grow up and become full grown men and women, even come to the full stature of Christ.

    It can help to counter such childish grievances by remembering the trying times that almost all the prophets went through, when they were carrying out the will of God, acting on His specific instructions to the letter, only to find themselves alone, hated, their lives threatened. Did they blame God? No. They recognized where the blame lay - in the people they were preaching to, their brethren, who would not bend their stiff necks and come under the yoke to be directed by God in their doings. These would not repent, but thinking they were righteous, carried on in their perverse manners.

    Look at what Jesus went through to fulfil his role as saviour, and the apostles too. Think of Abraham ,who was asked to offer up his son Isaac for a sacrifice. It's all hard. Jesus said it would be when he told his disciples they would have to be baptized with his baptism of suffering and death. Jesus said we can love no man more than him if we want to inherit the promises. God's people have to be baptized with fire. How else can we come forth as gold? Our faith has to be tried and tested. This is the way, the narrow way that leads to life. If you can't stand the thought of it, then it isn't for you. It takes people who despise the shame attached to being Christian. I mean the so called shame that comes from those who think Christians are pathetic, deluded fools. Well, we Christians feel a bit sad for such who hold this view of us. But we choose to be foolish, because God has used the foolish things to confound the wise - of this age.




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    Replies
    1. //You sound to me as though you've felt greatly let down in your religious life. I think this is a very common experience. I also think it is what causes people to fall away from their belief in God.//

      I hear this often from believers, but never have I encountered someone who deconverted because of some bad experience. More often there was some bad experience that jolted someone out of their comfortable beliefs and forced them to look into it more deeply, and only after examination of their beliefs did they deconvert.

      This tactic appears to me to be an attempt to discredit the unbeliever, by suggesting that they did not arrive at their position via reasonable or rational means. But is that fair? Many unbelievers I've encountered became so after a long and difficult quest to find the truth. Meanwhile most believers I've encountered arrived at their position via indoctrination during early childhood, so perhaps those in glass houses should not throw stones...

      By the way, you didn't really answer the question posed in the article. I couldn't see how anything you wrote here was related. Would you like to have another go?

      Delete
    2. Ok then. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous, the thing to bear in mind is how many assumptions you've made here. Starting with the assumption that the Bible is true, of course, and following it with the assumption that your interpretation of the Bible is the correct one.

    However, what I have found is that if you start with the assumption you are right, it is really easy to demonstrate it to yourself. Unfortunately, in the real world that has no effect on whether that assumption is actually true.

    So, let's look at some of these again. The Bible says we are sinful flesh. It says that the things of God are foolishness. It claims to record a series of events in the lives of different ancient characters. But how do you know this is true? More, even if it is true how do you know you are interpreting it correctly? Most of those events don't come with associated value judgements from God: they are just a record of what is supposed to have happened. You appear to be drawing the lessons from it that suit your particular point, and give you comfort when things in life are hard. Why don't you just ask the Father? Jesus said that whatever you asked in his name would be given?

    Seeing as you are willing to take faith being foolish as literal, do you also take the coming forth as gold as literal? How about being baptised by fire?

    Also, actually on Steve's original point, I might agree with you that it would be unjust for the prophets to have blamed God for their misfortunes. If he didn't exist, then clearly he could play no part in them.

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  3. Fed Up With ReligionSeptember 15, 2016 at 12:10 AM

    WOW, Anon... What a perfect example of the deep delusion that religious indoctrination provides.

    Thanks for that, textbook

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