The Plausibility of God

I am a member of several online atheists groups where atheists debate with people who have some level of belief in “God” (not necessarily the ‘Christian God’). The most frequent response to an argument for God is:

“PROVE IT!!!”

Or if the person is a little more thoughtful they might respond along the lines of:

“An argument that has no evidence is imagination and nothing more.”

Let me start by making a concession:

I cannot empirically prove God. 

I have never seen God.

I have never heard God.

I do not have a picture of God.

I cannot tell you where God is located.

I have not even experienced a miracle that could not be plausibly explained by coincidence. God has never made a pile of gold coins appear out of thin air. I have not seen God grow a new limb on an amputee and I have not seen any body of water parted.

OK.

But I do believe God is plausible.

“You are kidding, right? Can you argue a universe farting pixie into existence? Do try as an exercise.”

Relax!

Try to hear me out.

(That is an actual response to one of my posts.)

First, Don’t Over Estimate Your Scientific Knowledge

I appreciate the Scientific Method, the value of data, and all of the progress since The Renaissance. I do not want to return to the Dark Ages. I repudiate the Fundamentalist expression of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Fox News. And I also repudiate Materialistic Fundamentalism.

Science has tremendous value. But much of what is scientific certainty one decade is an cringe worthy a decade later. In the 1990’s I ate Cocoa Pebbles for breakfast with skim milk because it was fat-free and fortified with vitamins. Even Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein are questioned. All I am saying is that scientific understanding is constantly building and evolving. Advancement in scientific understanding does not mean certain knowledge. There are simply too many variables.

So the demand to “PROVE IT!!!” is really an expression of binary reductionism. Simplistic black & white thinking. It would be nice if the world could be divided into what is proven and disproven, but human knowledge actually is a spectrum of plausibility and probability.

Second, “God” is a Plausible Cause for the Universe and Everything In It

It is reasonable to look at your children and nature and human consciousness and social dynamics and ask, “Where did this all come from? What caused all of this?”

It is then reasonable to speculate on a reasonable, sufficient, non-contingent cause of the Universe and everything in it.

It is then reasonable to speculate that the reasonable, sufficient, non-contingent cause must contain certain qualities to produce the Universe that is.

I must admit I am partial to Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz’s argument from contingency:

  1. Every contingent fact has an explanation.
  2. There is a contingent fact that includes all other contingent facts.
  3. Therefore, there is an explanation of this fact.
  4. This explanation must involve a necessary being.
  5. This necessary being is God.

(The above formulation is from Baylor University Philosophy Professor Alexander Pruss.)

I like Dr. William Lane Craig’s list of attributes of such a being:

“The extremely powerful, uncaused, necessarily existing, non-contingent, immaterial, non-physical, eternal being, who created the entire universe, and everything in it.”

And I think it is a Universe Farting Pixie!!!!!

OK. Let me address what I will call the “Universe Farting Pixie Fallacy”.

Atheists often confuse possibility with plausibility. A certain type of atheist likes to say “Zeus helped me find a parking spot today.” Or “I will pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for you.” The implication is that because Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster are silly possibilities they are equally plausible to Lebniz’s Necessary Being.

This is obviously illogical.

Unless Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster is your name for “The extremely powerful, uncaused, necessarily existing, non-contingent, immaterial, non-physical, eternal being, who created the entire universe, and everything in it.”

Third, “God” is Plausible because it is Ubiquitous Historically and Currently

After glancing at stats online it appears that approximately:

  • 3-6% of the world is atheist or agnostic.
  • 10-20% of the world are non-religious.
  • The rest are religious.

It is natural for humans to have a belief in ‘God’ and to formulate religious practices. For this phenomena to so naturally occur across time, race, culture, and politics provides plausible evidence of God. Experience is evidence.

I was a Fundamentalist Christian in my youth. Then I was an Evangelical Christian for decades. I even earned an MDiv and was a pastor for a few years. Then I was a Liberal Christian for about 6 months. Then I no longer believed Christianity was true.

But I still believe in God.

Why?

Fourth, God is Plausible Because of the Ubiquity of Powerful Spiritual Experiences

Now that I think about it….maybe I can prove God empirically. 

Empirically: by means of observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

What keeps me on this spiritual journey is the powerful and positive spiritual experiences I have had and still have. Experiences that make me a more peaceful, loving, self-controlled, and wise person.

And it isn’t just me. There is a massive amount of data on the spiritual experiences of humans. And it is repeatable. And there is remarkable consistency. As a matter of fact, one of the things that triggered my initial doubts about Christianity was meeting a bunch of people my faith considered ‘lost and going to hell’ who were having the same powerful spiritual experiences I was having.

I have known over a thousand people personally whose lives have been changed by God. Their God may be named Jesus. Or Muhammed. Or a God without a precise theological definition. Or simply a Higher Power. But I cannot deny what I have experienced and what I have seen others experience.

And I believe it is Plausible that there is a ‘God’ behind these experiences.

Could You Be Wrong, Christopher?

Yes.

Of course.

But so could you.

I have to choose beliefs to guide my life. And I believe one measure of the truth of beliefs is the quality of life those beliefs produce. Jesus said, “But Wisdom is proved right by all her children.” I believe a reasonable belief in God produces the best life. Certainly for me.

And beliefs should reflect reality. And the reality I experience and see all around me includes the spiritual. To not believe in God would be to deny the reality all around me.

Plausibility then Personal Experimentation

When I go to “The Lovely Thai” restaurant in Grayslake, IL the first thing I do when selecting an entree is establish plausibility. I read the description on the to go menu. I ask to see the menu with the pictures. I ask the owner to reference their personal experience regarding a specific dish (It’s great!). Once plausibility is established there is only one way to resolve the issue. Of course I could measure and weigh and touch the entree. But that really doesn’t resolve things for me. It is just more information. Knowledge is in direct experience with the dish.

I have to taste it.

I think the same is true for God. I am not interested in tasting “The Flying Spaghetti Monster”, “Zeus”, “The Universe Farting Pixie”, or “Eric the Necessary Being Eating Penguin”. I suppose these are possibilities but not plausible ones. But the Necessary Being (The extremely powerful, uncaused, necessarily existing, non-contingent, immaterial, non-physical, eternal being, who created the entire universe, and everything in it) is plausible.

Let’s dig in.

 

 

 

 

Problem of Evil Resolved

Last night my wife wanted to go to a Christmas party that would require me to make small talk with a bunch of people I didn’t know for several hours.

I decided to stay home alone and resolve the Problem of Evil.

And here is the Resolution:

God is Functionally Non-Omnipotent. 

Considering the experience of our daily lives and atrocities that occur on a daily basis it is obvious that a Good God is not in control of daily events. From car accidents to cancer, child abuse to cholera, tsunamis to schizophrenia,  and from terrorism to racism, sexism and corruption the world is full of pain and evil.

Yet there is love and beauty and kindness and generosity. There is moral progress gained by courage and sacrifice. There are cures and treatments and therapies and solutions and technological advancement. There are powerful personal transformations. There are epiphanies and life changing enlightenment. There is cooperation and community. There are signs of transcendence and a Higher Power everywhere.

There is a carefully landscaped Garden overgrown and full of weeds.

A Da Vinci’s Gran Cavallo. A masterpiece abandoned in the planning stages.

What I am actually solving for is not the answer to “The Problem of Evil”. I am solving for the answer to “The Problem of Simultaneous Good and Evil that cannot be explained solely by Darwinian Self-Interest”.

A compelling explanation is that God is Functionally Non-Omnipotent. It is impossible to know if God is actually limited or has chosen limits. If God has chosen these limits it is impossible to know why these particular limitations were chosen. We can speculate but those speculations are always ultimately unsatisfying to say the least.

God always works for good in any and all situations. The calling for humans is to cooperate with God in the progressive mitigation and elimination of pain and evil while promoting love, peace, health, and human flourishing.

God doesn’t dictate instructions and solutions. God only works at the level of spirit to inspire, transform, and guide. God is present and works in that space between stimulus and response called consciousness. But God cannot override natural law and cause and effect.

God is the Invisible Hand guiding us through awareness and expanded consciousness. God cannot ‘zap us’ into expanded consciousness. It only comes spiritually and organically.

In all of this a God Algorithm calculates God’s engagement vs. God’s limitations. God is always working for the most possible good within the parameters of the God Algorithm.

The only path to peace that I can see is to accept life on life’s terms and trust that there is an ultimately reasonable, loving and beautiful explanation. As we accept reality and surrender to Life we increasingly open ourselves to God to be guided and shaped into humans who are expanding Love and solving Pain and Evil.

I Miss Worship

I sleep in on Sunday’s now.

As I stumbled down the hallway towards the light coming from the kitchen this morning the melody of a popular Evangelical worship song slowly penetrated my “I am not a morning person” brain fog. My wife’s pitchy soprano kicked in on the chorus, “Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to….”.

Simultaneous reactions:

  1. I have a PTSD reaction. I am feeling manipulated. All the repugnant ideas of a God requiring death and blood and violence to satisfy his wrath and ‘holiness’ and that the horrific act is somehow ‘proof’ of how much God ‘loves’ me. The idea of being ‘saved’. ‘Saved’ from the Eternal Conscious Torment created by a depraved, pagan God.
  2. I can tell my wife is enjoying singing the worship song. It is meaningful to her. Am I forcing my path on her? I spent 5 decades worshiping like this. Who am I to deny her this?
  3. I miss worship.  I can’t participate in Christian worship anymore. The message is too full of things I find morally repulsive and irrational. The “Good News” of Christianity sounds like “Toxic, Dysfuntional, Pagan News” to me. But I do miss the experiences of connection with God that I used to have in personal and church worship.

Unitarian Universalist Worship

I have tried worshiping at our local Unitarian Universalist church. And I will probably try again. But their strength is their weakness. I went to choir practice once. The lyrics of one song were redacted from “Spirit” to “Love”. The UU’s careful avoidance of dogma and belief in God results in lyrics of vague, inoffensive, life affirming sentimentalism. Songs without spiritual traction to connect with my spirit.

Kirtan Worship

I discovered the Kirtan music of Krishna Das. The songs are simply chants of the names of God in Hindi or Sanskrit. I traveled to Madison, WI to see Krishna Das perform live. Between 500 to 1,000 people were packed into a Lutheran church. I felt an immediate spirit of camaraderie with the people sitting around me. I was reminded of some of my more powerful Evangelical worship experiences. The simple singing of the names of God avoids the specific dogma that ejects me from the worship experience. It is simple communion with God through music and singing in community.

If you want to check out Krishna Das I would recommend this Youtube video of his live performance of Baba Hanuman:

 

Cloud Cult Worship

I have found several bands that supplement my need for spiritual music that used to be filled by Contemporary Christian Music. Music from John Lennon, George Harrison, and some Beatles’ music. “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls. A band that has been especially important to me is Minnesota band “Cloud Cult”. I traveled to Duluth, MN this summer with my family to see Cloud Cult live. Very earnest, intelligent, spiritual and musically interesting. I stood in the front of the stage with other hard-core fans with my hands raised and tears streaming down my face as they performed this song:

Group Meditation

Sometimes I go around the corner to “The Yoga Effect”. They have a free community meditation every Sunday morning. There is really nothing special about it. It is a simple guided meditation. But I always “feel it” when I meditate with other people. There is a different energy.

A La Carte Worship

Right now I am practicing “A La Carte” worship. There are many reasons for this. I am not settled enough in my beliefs or lack of beliefs to commit to an organization. And I am deeply suspicious of religious organizations. Religious organizations seem so hopelessly and inherently focused on sustaining their own existence. Keeping the machine running. Making payroll. Putting butts in seats. And like so many people, time is scarce as I am hustling multiple jobs to pay the bills.

But I do have a longing for a worship community. A worship community that does not have an organization behind it. A worship community that is not a weekly concert. Worship that is organic, heartfelt, earnest, and dogma-free.

Jesus’ Return ‘Left Behind’ the Environment

Conservative Christians’ treat the planet like a rental car with full insurance coverage because of their belief in the imminent “Rapture” of “Saved” Christians and the return of Jesus. Conservative Christian have “Left Behind” the Environment.

Do you see what I did there?

If you do not have an Evangelical Christian background you may not be familiar with the phenomenon that is the “Left Behind” book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

“Left Behind” is a book series built on conservative Christian ‘end times’ theology (eschatology) that all Christian will be ‘raptured’ and disappear from the earth, the Anti-Christ will rise up and rule the one world order (possibly Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama or both) and then Jesus will return and establish his Millennial Reign on earth. This series of books sold, I am not making this up, 80 MILLION COPIES!!!!

It also spawned 4 movies. Nicolas Cage, inexplicably, chose to star in the last Left Behind movie that earned a “1%” green splat on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer.

download

The success of “Left Behind” reveals the passionate commitment to a belief system about planet earth that not only causes apathy, but crusades against urgent actions needed to preserve a livable planet for our children.

Conservative Christians believe that the Earth has been Cursed

Conservative Christians believe that the earth was cursed by Adam and Eve’s rebellion and as a result the earth no longer functions as it was originally created. Global warning is inevitable Natural Evil resulting from The Fall along with tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. Genesis 3:17-19:

“To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat from it all the days of your life. 

 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

To Conservative Christians this curse from God can only be resolved by Jesus’ return and God’s creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth.

 

The Worse the Environment Gets the More Conservative Christians believe Jesus’ Return is Imminent

The Apostle Paul taught that both humans and the planet earth are subject to frustration and in bondage to decay and that both are waiting to be liberated by God. When Conservative Christians see news reports of environmental decay it just confirms for them what the Bible describes. The Bible says that the only hope for humans and the planet earth is liberation from God. The Apostle Paul says in Romans Chapter 8:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Christians believe the louder the ‘groaning’ of the “pains of childbirth”, the closer they are to the return of Jesus. Global warming and natural disasters are just the final painful contractions of the mother just before the baby emerges.

Conservative Christians believe they have Apocalyptic Insurance

The planet earth is a rental for Conservative Christians. And Jesus Christ has given them Apocalyptic Insurance so they don’t have to worry about what happens to the rental. Conservative Christians believe they have been promised Jesus Christ will return for them before the planet becomes uninhabitable.

Second Peter is a letter written to Christians who were doubting Jesus’ return over 2,000 years ago:

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

The Bible doesn’t instruct Christians to change the world or solve large scale problems. The Bible teaches that the world is on a Highway to Destruction with no exits. Christians must “hang on” and live “holy and godly lives” until the inevitable destruction of the cursed earth and the New and Permanent Earth replaces it.

Conservative Christians believe the Earth was intended for Consumption

Conservative Christians believe God gave the earth to humans and that humans are commanded by God to multiply and take dominion over the earth. The earth was to be exploited and consumed for the expansion of the human race. Humans were to rule the earth. Genesis 1:

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”

Conservative Christians continue to push for increased short term consumption at the cost of the needs of future generations. There is a Theology of Consumption and Exploitation but Theories of Preservation and Nurture are largely absent in Conservative Christianity.

Conservative Christian believe Environmental Concern is Worshiping the Environment

The Bible forbids worshiping idols and “created things”. In Romans Chapter 1 the Apostle Paul warns:

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

For Conservative Christians God is not in Nature. God is not in the created world. Nature is corrupted and separate from God. Concern for the earth looks like Pantheism to many Christians. “Tree hugging” looks like idol worship.

Instead of seeing God ‘in’ Nature.

Instead of seeing Oneness.

Christians see “Other”. “Separate”. “Temporary”.

I Have Children

I have Evangelical friends who argue there is no proof of Global Warning and/or the causes of Global Warning. Here is my bottom line. I will die before this all gets out of hand. But I have 3 beautiful kids. I don’t want them living in a Mad Max movie. We have to go with the best scientific understanding we have. There is a scientific consensus about the causes of global warning. We must move forward with them aggressively. I am sure we will discover many errors along the way but we have to more forward with what we know. There is no benefit to doing nothing and the risks of inaction are enormous.

Evangelical friends. I know you believe Jesus is coming to rescue you. But Christians have been saying that for over 2,000 years now. If Jesus comes back you can tell me “I told you so.” I am sure God will deliver a message to me in Hell. But on the possibility that God continues to delay his return, don’t you want your kids to have the best life possible?

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Why I want to believe in God.

An atheist asked me a great question:

“But anyway: if this way of thinking makes you happy, then go ahead, as this doesn’t disturb me. But you would be exactly as happy as you are if you would stop in having the need to related to something which is out of reach. What for? Why? This aspect interest me, can you comment on it?”

I love a question that cuts through the tangential and secondary obfuscations and gets to the pragmatic bottom line: Why do I want to believe in God?

I didn’t have a succinct processed answer. I guess I thought it was self-evident. Obviously important. And my Christian friends have asked what is essentially the same question:

“Chris, why are you spending so much time trying to find answers to unanswerable questions? Just accept it on faith and quit tormenting yourself.”

So I am sitting down at my desk this Saturday morning to see if I have an answer.

ONE: Science is good for How but incompetent for Why. 

Many of my atheist friends say they believe in science as if that precludes the metaphysical and the spiritual. As if science and spirituality answer the same questions. I believe that science and the spiritual are both part of Ultimate Reality. Two sides of the same coin. One is focused on discovering Physical Reality. The other is focused on Metaphysical Reality. There are aspects of life that depend on metaphysical revelation to find the ‘good’ understanding and the ‘good’ action. Pure scientific pragmatism produces Eugenics and its moral equivalents. Even my atheists friends are ‘borrowing transcendence’ on a daily basis. Because the things that matter most to us are ‘the good things’ that are valued far beyond their material and pragmatic value.

TWO: I want to know the Best Way to Live. 

Often the wisdom and religious streams of mankind are rich sources for the best way to live. We join the ancient conversations and bring our contemporary and individual understandings to them. It doesn’t require being stuck in pagan thought and superstition. It means building upon the spiritual work that has been done just as we build on historical knowledge and experience in disciplines such as Psychology, Science, Politics, and Economics.

It is significant if there is a Higher Consciousness guiding humans to make progress in all aspects of the human experience. It is even more significant if I can make conscious contact with that Higher Consciousness and involve that Higher Consciousness in the daily experiences that add up to the sum total of my life.

THREE: I want to understand my Many Spiritual Experiences. 

Right now I am sitting at my desk in my bedroom looking out the window on the on the early November snowscape. It is a beautiful mix of fall colors and white snow. When I take a moment to be present with nature I feel my internal RPMs downshift to an idle. My breaths naturally come deeper and slower. The voice in my head becomes quiet. I feel at one with the rhythm of nature rather than my typical Race Against Time mindset. I would also say that I feel Love. And a Presence. And a Connection. And I gain Clarity. Out of this place my intuition is very powerful. I am able to reframe and find perspective.

Many would say that is simply Mindfulness. While Mindfulness does describe my experience I believe that term falls short of a full explanation. A more comprehensive and satisfying description would be a personal connection with a Higher Consciousness.

FOUR: I want to participate in a Meaningful Meta-Narrative

Of course Atheists can find meaningful ways to engage life. But then the earth will eventually be engulfed by our sun when it swells into a Red Giant. For me it would be very meaningful if our existence is more than a random occurrence. Most humans intuitively believe there is more to life and existence than that we are simply the result of a long, random chain of cause and effect that can be traced back to the Singularity. If life was created intentionally then there is some purpose to it. Maybe we can examine life and, in combination with our spiritual experiences, discern what gives life meaning.

FIVE: I want there to be Life after Death

If there is Life after Death it significantly re-frames this life.

I want to be reassured that I will see loved ones from this life in the next. And that I will see them set free from the faulty material of their bodies. Free from disease, injury, addictions and mental illness.

At nearly 54 I have entered a season of life where my chances of dropping dead significantly increase each year. Each year my body loses functionality. And I am definitely not getting better looking. My life will end before get a chance to do and to learn and to experience many meaningful and engaging experiences.

I know. I should have a bucket list.

But I am not talking about parachuting or getting a tattoo or going to see the Eiffel Tower.

I am talking about studying physics. I am talking about mastering a musical instrument. I am talking about living out entire new careers. Living lifetimes in different places.

I am also talking about my Personal Progression. At 54 I feel like I am just beginning to learn to be the person I was intended to be. I am just beginning to understand situations and circumstances and how to engage and respond.

I am just beginning to gain Wisdom.

I am just learning to Love.

I would like that progression to continue in my own life and others and experience what that life would be like.

What would I be like at 250 years old? I want to know that.

SIX: Now that I am free from the superstition, the dogma, the bigotry, the paganism, and the tribalism of Conservative Christianity I believe my new openness to follow the truth where it leads creates an opportunity to more fully experience God. 

In the Christian circles I ran in we often talked about “Defending Our Faith!”. Conservative Christians believe they are in a “Spiritual War” against the world, the flesh, and the devil. This inevitably leads to Conservative Christians living in isolated bunkers. Often these Conservative Christian will only allow Christians in their bunker who share their own very particular version of Conservative Christianity. This creates a Brainwashing Echo Chamber that few escape from.

What I would give to have escaped decades earlier!!

But my new openness combined with a lifetime of spiritual experience puts me in a good position to come to a fuller experience and understanding of God.

CONCLUSION: I want to believe in God because: I BELIEVE IN GOD. 

In the process of thinking about this I came to an important conclusion that just became obvious to me. I want to believe in God because I already believe in God. I know so many people whose lives have been positively transformed by God. People so naturally believe in God. I believe the Universe is obvious evidence of Intelligent Design. And I have a deep, unshakable belief that this life matters and is rooted in something beyond this life.

I am not a Christian.

Or any other organized religion.

I believe in God.

True Experiences False Beliefs

I prayed my way through the Deconstruction of my Evangelical Christian beliefs.

But what I thought was a Rogue Wave was actually a Tsunami.

The first wave wiped out Historical Adam & Eve and Historical Noah’s Ark & the World Wide Flood and the Historical Tower of Babel. Then the ongoing Tsunami deconstructed the God of Genocide, the God of Homophobia & Repressed Sexuality, the God of Eternal Conscience Torment, the God of Sexism, and the God of Slavery.

Then, just when I thought the worst of the destruction was over I realized the Bible was a very human and imperfect text. And then, finally, the Towering Structure of my Evangelical Christian faith constructed on Highest Ground began to crumble and collapse. I realized the bodily Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead was highly improbable at best.

I still remember posting in my Galileo’s Grotto Facebook group: “I don’t think I am a Christian any more.”

My belief in the Resurrection was the anchor of my faith. Cut loose from a literal Resurrection I was now drifting out into open waters. Disoriented. More than lost. Without direction. Without a course. Without a Destination.

So much of my life was framed by my Christian beliefs, my Christian community, and my Christian spiritual experiences.

What about my LIFETIME of SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES?

Powerful experiences.

Life changing and life shaping experiences.

Healing experiences.

Eye-Opening, Enlightening experiences.

Peace that Passes Understanding experiences.

Not by Might, Not by Power, but By My Spirit experiences.

Powerful experiences of Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness.

Did losing my Evangelical Christian beliefs mean that my Christian Spiritual experiences were a delusion?

I did what I had often done when I was feeling lost. I prayed.

And God spoke to me.

My agnostic friends might say, “Chris, I was tracking with you but now you are falling back into your delusion and superstition.” I understand some people may think that but maybe it is of some value for me to explain what I mean when I say that “God spoke to me.”

It is not an audible voice. It resembles a thought. Actually, Intuition is a better word. A sudden understanding that comes with a sense of clarity, peace, and conviction. It provides an immediate relief of the internal conflict. Suddenly at peace. I have come to recognize that experience as “The Voice of God”. And, yes, I do realize the grandiosity of that statement.

So what did God “say” to me?

“Chris. Your Beliefs and your Experiences are two different things. Your Experiences are True. Don’t worry so much about your Beliefs. We’ll work those out over time. But your Experiences of My Presence are True.”

I know less about God than I ever have. But I still experience God on a daily basis.

I no longer recite a “To Do List” for God. Change this. Fix that. Move this. Remove that. Give me this. Take that.

I am free from Superstitious Prayer. Free from the neurotic belief that if I do not “Pray about It” God won’t do anything. It is so good to be free from guilt over not giving God a to do list for my life.

My experience of God now is very similar to meditation and mindfulness. At times I set aside 20 or 30 minutes to sit quietly in God’s presence. Other times I experience God through the mindfulness that comes from being Present in This Moment. Being Present is where I experience God. God is in the Now. This Moment. I especially experience God when I am present with my wife and children and when I am present with nature.

I have discovered I do not have to know much about God to have a powerful experience with God.

I now have a truly Simple Faith.

 

 

 

The 5 Reasons Evangelicals Love Donald Trump

Was Jesus an Unrepentant, Greedy, Womanizing, Sexually Abusive, Coercive, Liar?

Of course not.

Jesus was the opposite of that.

I am….Baffled….Perplexed…Apalled…by my Evangelical friends fervent…even frenzied…support of President Donald Trump.

As an Evangelical into my late 40’s, I decided to do a Vulcan Mind Meld with my previously Evangelical Mind to come to an understanding of this Gross, UnBiblical Hypocrisy.

These are the 5 reasons Evangelicals passionately support Donald Trump:

  1. Evangelicals are masters of Suspending Disbelief. 

Most Evangelicals believe the world is around 4,000 years old. That the Universe was created in 6 days. That Adam and Eve were the first humans and that a Talking Snake ruined everything for everyone. Evangelicals believe humans are born deserving to be sent to a fiery Eternal Conscience Torment. They believe that the voices in their head telling them “Have a second piece of chocolate cake” or “Go look at porn” are demons. When you have trained your mind to believe by faith that Noah’s Ark is a historical event, rationalizing support for Trump is not a great leap. Evangelicals must let go of their Pre-Enlightenment, Flat Earth reading of the Bible in order to better understand their own book and in order to engage our times with clear eyes.

2. Evangelicals are Living a Binary Conspiracy Theory in which Evangelicals are God’s Chosen People Literally Saving The World. 

Evangelicals believe there is God’s side and the Devil’s side. Evangelicals are God’s “Chosen People”. The Holders of “The Truth”. Everyone else is “The World” that is under the rule of “The Devil”. Evangelicals are susceptible to conspiracy theories that reinforce this Remnant Hero meta-narrative. Evangelicals bought 80 MILLION copies of Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind books series based on LaHaye’s interpretation of the Book of Revelation. That same apocalyptic world view enables them to easily envision God raises of President Donald Trump as a means by which God accomplishes His purposes in The World.

3. Evangelicals are attracted to Authoritative Preachers who define Binary Black & White World

Evangelicals organize around their own Personal Prophet who organizes the World into Good and Evil for them. Their own Evangelical Guru. It could be Franklin Graham or Benny Hinn. It could be Jerry Falwell, Jr, Beth Moore or John MacArthur. Or the latest Trendy Teacher in skinny jeans and expensive sneakers.  Some are better than others. Each Preacher brings their own carefully curated Brand of The Truth. The “IN” and the “OUT”. Rivals are identified and “OTHERED”. Each claims to be speaking for God through their own superior interpretation of The Word of God.

Donald Trump is the Authoritative Prophet for Evangelicals. Trump provides the Conspiracy Theory.  Trump reduces the world to Black and White. Good and Evil. Trump cherry picks a few data points and forms it into a compelling Meta-Narrative for those looking for a simple world view to manage their anxiety and to deliver them from the hard work of a reflective analysis of the problems we face.

For others President Trump is the Old Testament Pagan King who God raises up to do the dirty work for The Chosen Ones. Trump is the Divine Fixer who will lie, cheat, and steal for his clients.

4. Evangelical Rationalization: It was either Trump or Clinton?

It is amazing how Evangelicals ignored the actual Evangelical Christian Republican Candidates in the 2016 Election: Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson. Evangelicals ignored all of these Evangelical Christian Republican candidates, several with respectable Republican resumes,  for the man who said women love it when he: “Grabs them by the pussy.”

5. Evangelicals have reduced Social Justice to ending Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage

Evangelicals have reduced the moral responsibility of Americans to stopping women from having abortions and to stopping Same-Sex Marriage. Forget poverty. Forget health care for all people. Forget criminal justice. Forget the environment. Forget alternative energy.

If Evangelicals can tell themselves that they are stopping abortion they can rationalize all kinds of evil in the process. And it is a heckuva a lot easier to tell women to stop having abortions or to stop baking wedding cakes for same sex weddings than to actually get in there and help the poor and the exploited.

The Problem of Religion and Politics

You might be expecting me to say that we shouldn’t mix religion and politics.

The opposite is true.

I plead with my Evangelical Christian friends: Bring more Jesus into your politics!!!